Our neighborhoods are the foundation of our community, and we need to continue enabling strong neighborhoods across Golden. While some change may be ok, we need to manage it carefully and thoughtfully. That means complying with the 1% growth limit, maintaining the character of our neighborhoods, and rejecting annexation requests when they are harmful to Golden (something I’ve voted twice to do since I’ve been on the City Council). Neighborhood plans are a powerful tool for neighborhoods to set priorities for new neighborhood investments and amenities, to identify key problems in need of attention, and to influence what change occurs and how it happens. We have completed three neighborhood plans and have two more underway, and the community-wide Golden Vision 2030 process will also help ensure that individual neighborhoods have a great deal of control over what happens within their boundaries.
Protecting Historic Downtown Golden
Historic Downtown Golden has seen a lot of change over the past couple of decades, some good and some less so. I was a strong advocate for the adoption of stricter height limits and architectural guidelines for our downtown, which City Council adopted in 2008. I am also a strong advocate for supporting our downtown businesses, keeping downtown looking great, and finding a good balance between the needs of our downtown businesses, residents, and visitors. I believe that redevelopment is slowly coming to East Downtown between Washington Avenue and Ford Street. We should proactively lay out our vision for that redevelopment rather than get stuck with the vision that the developers bring to us.
Parks and Open Space
Our parks and open space are one of Golden’s most popular and important community amenities. We have an extensive system that includes nine neighborhood parks, four pocket parks, and over 5,000 acres of protected land. In recent years, we have created a new park (Discovery Park), made improvements to many of our existing parks, completed a major renovation of our Community Center, and supported the creation of a new Golden Community Garden. I believe that every resident of Golden should be able to walk to a park within ten minutes of their home, and we as implement our new Parks and Recreation Master Plan we will get closer to that goal. A few top priorities include adding some parkland and open space in the Heritage Road area, major improvements to the Tony Grampsas and Ulysses Parks, protecting the greenbelt around Golden, creating a Clear Creek Master Plan to guide management and changes along Clear Creek for the next decade or two, and to add some key missing facilities, such as an additional skateboard park and a mountain bike skills park.
One of the City Council’s most important responsibilities is to make sure we invest the community’s resources wisely, providing the high quality services residents want while protecting our property values and our quality of life. We continue to manage the city’s finances very carefully and conservatively:
- We maintain a very robust operating reserve in this time of economic uncertainty.
- We maintain our current infrastructure before we invest in anything new.
- We have a very conservative debt policy, only borrowing money where we come out ahead as a result.
- We maintain exceptional bond ratings and consistently win awards for our budgets and financial reporting.
The results of this approach to managing the community’s resources? Despite the recession, property in Golden maintained its value, we did not have to make staff and program cuts like many of our neighbors, we were able to complete major projects we had already started, and we continue to maintain Golden’s high quality of life.
Transportation Solutions – Cars, Light Rail, Community Bus, Bikes, and Walking
Golden’s high quality of life and economic vitality depends on effective transportation within neighborhoods, between neighborhoods and our business districts, and between Golden and the rest of the region.
- Cars. Golden offers substantial parking in our historic downtown and every other business district in town, and we maintain our streets to a high level of service.
- Rail. Light rail is coming to Golden! Construction is now under way on the West Corridor line connecting Golden to the rest of the Denver Metro region. We have worked closely with Jefferson County, RTD, and our neighboring cities to make sure we get a good system providing easy access to and from Golden. We also are working closely with the Rocky Mountain Rail coalition to make sure Golden is positioned for an appropriate stop on whatever sort of rail system is ultimately developed along the I-70 Corridor.
- Community Bus. We are in the planning stages for a new community bus service within Golden, providing a connection between downtown Golden, Colorado School of Mines, and the new light rail station. Ultimately I’d like to see the bus system connect all of Golden’s main neighborhoods and key community facilities (such as the Community Center and the library).
- Bicycling and Walking. Golden is already very friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists, but we can and should continue to improve our system of sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes. In 2008, I appointed a community task force to focus on each on these. Based largely on their recommendations, we’ve made substantial strides over the past two years: we’ve added a bunch of bike lanes around town, we made bike- and pedestrian-safety improvements to the intersection of 6th Avenue and 19th Street, the new Washington Avenue Bridge over Highway 58 was designed to provide great access for people on bikes and on foot, we added a pedestrian-friendly shoulder to 8th Street between the pedestrian bridge and the Community Center, we significantly improved the sidewalks near Shelton Elementary on Kimball and Crawford, and we built a new bike/pedestrian underpass underneath Heritage Road to connect the Apex trail to future east side trail connections. Three more major trail and bike lane connections are in the works. One of those will connect the 6th Avenue trail from 19th Street to Clear Creek. We’ve also got on the way a trail and bike lane connection from the main part of town to our southernmost neighborhoods (Golden Hills and Golden Heights). And we’ve got in the works a new trail connecting the south side of Clear Creek trail from Illinois St. to the 6th Avenue trail.
Finally, Golden continues to work hard to promote responsible and effective transportation solutions in the northwest part of the Denver Metro region. We are partnering with Boulder, Superior, and Boulder County on a plan to fix the problems on the Highway 93/Highway 6 corridor while also improving bus and bike options and protecting our open space and mountain views. This plan includes four key elements. First, improve safety and congestion by adding shoulders, guardrails, acceleration and deceleration lanes, and similar improvements at strategically targeted pinch points. Second, complete the Front Range trail, providing a safe, convenient bicycle connection between Boulder and Golden. Third, enhance RTD bus service between Boulder and Golden. Fourth, rebuild key intersections in Golden to make them safer for vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians and to better connect our western neighborhoods with the main part of town. We already submitted one grant proposal for our highest priority project, rebuilding the intersection of Highway 6 and 19th Street in Golden to add an overpass, on- and off-ramps, great bike lanes, and high-quality pedestrian crossing.
Fighting the Billion Dollar Boondoggle
I and the entire City Council oppose plans to construct a new tolled highway north of Golden because it will lead to increased congestion and safety problems on Highway 93 (including a new traffic light), it will lead to increased traffic on many major roads in the region, and it is a key step in their vision for a Denver Tech Center-style development along the southern and western boundaries of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. It will also require local governments to sign congestion guarantees to private investors, guaranteeing that public roads becoming increasingly congested in order to force local residents onto the private toll highway. Golden strongly supports improvements to the existing roads that fix congestion, solve safety problems, preserve open space, and protect local communities, but their toll road proposal does exactly the opposite.
Golden Sustainability Initiative
The Golden City Council launched the Golden Sustainability Initiative early in 2007 with a community forum with more than 200 participants. Later that year, seven Community Working Groups proposed adoption of ambitious ten-year sustainability goals and provided more than 100 recommendations for programs the community and the city could undertake to achieve those goals. City Council appointed the city’s first Sustainability Advisory Board – charged with guiding our progress toward our ten-year goals –in 2008 and subsequently hired the community’s first Sustainability Director.
Our Sustainability Initiative goals include increasing energy efficiency, increasing our use of renewable energy, reducing the city’s energy costs, creating economic opportunities, reducing the amount of waste we send to the landfill, improving our quality of life, and reducing our environmental impact.
Some of the many accomplishments since we launched the initiative include:
- Converting all of the city’s traffic lights to highly efficient LED bulbs.
- Expanding the city’s recycling center.
- Major HVAC and other energy efficiency upgrades in city buildings.
- Installation of a solar heating system for the Community Center pool.
- Reducing the average fuel economy of the city’s entire vehicle fleet and reducing the number of miles driven by city vehicles.
- Changing our code to make it easier to install wind turbines in commercial districts.
- Waiving fees for solar energy installations.
- Partnering with Trout Unlimited, Jefferson County, and others to restore fish habitat in portions of Clear Creek.
Golden’s Economic Vitality
Golden’s economic vitality has three key legs: a) strong merchants and restaurants, b) maintaining and growing our primary job base, and c) sustaining our high quality of life. Primary jobs in and around Golden themselves create economic vitality in Golden because those businesses spend money and contribute to our tax base, but they also create a wealth of additional jobs, especially in retail and restaurants. Our many merchants in historic downtown Golden, on South Golden Road, and in our other business districts depend on this ripple effect (as well as on tourists to Golden), and of course they contribute a great deal to our tax base as well. And both of these depend on maintaining our high quality of life to attract and keep businesses, employees, and residents.
We invest a great deal in our retail merchants and restaurant owners, contributing to our community marketing efforts, providing small grants to business owners, maintaining parking spaces, sidewalks, and other critical infrastructure, and supporting important events downtown and elsewhere that bring in people and dollars to our merchants. Through our Economic Development Commission, through my own outreach to our primary employers, and through our collaborations with the Colorado School of Mines and NREL, we also work hard to attract and retain primary jobs.
One key project: we are evaluating all of our economic vitality efforts and will consider restructuring them in 2010.
Preserving Our History and Our Historic Character
Golden’s history and historic character are central to our identity as a community. The new height limits and architectural guidelines for downtown Golden will help protect its historic character. We also are completing an important restoration project at the Cambria Lime Kiln, we recently improved the city’s historic preservation rules (creating a new voluntary opportunity for owners of historic buildings to secure historic status), we added a new home to the ranks of our designated historic structures, and we provided substantial support to the Golden Landmarks Association’s restoration of the Brickyard Manager’s House.
Transparency and Accountability
When I was sworn in as mayor in January 2008, I pledged that an accountable and transparent city government would be a hallmark of my service. Working closely with my colleagues on the City Council, we are fulfilling that promise:
- City Council maintained a commitment to televise every City Council meeting. We added live streaming to the web, launched a new web video archive system, and upgraded the audio system to improve citizen access.
- We upgraded the city’s web site, added an improved search engine, and added more information about public meetings to allow citizens broader access to information.
- The city continues to publish the award-winning Golden Informer on a monthly basis, distributing it to every household and business in the community.
- We fostered a resurgence of community involvement in city decision-making, with an unprecedented number of people joining our boards, commissions and task forces, many of whom had never before been involved in city government.
- City Council established a thorough and transparent performance evaluation system for the City Manager.
- In 2008, the City of Golden was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 18th year in a row, demonstrating the highest standards in financial reporting.
- Two city councilors, including myself, maintain web sites and community newsletters.
- We published for the first time a Community Accountability Report, a personal priority of mine, to report to the community on our performance outcomes: how well are we doing delivering the services and amenities Golden community members wants.
My goal, shared by my colleagues, is to maintain the highest standards of accountability and transparency for Golden’s city government.