January 23, 2019

City Council Beltway Discussion and Decision Scheduled for Feb. 24

For two decades now, Golden has been fighting proposals to build a beltway through our community. We have been successful so far: there is no beltway plowing through Golden, and close to two years ago CDOT set aside its own plan to push a six- or eight-lane high-speed superhighway through town. But the proponents – primarily Jefferson County, Arvada, and Broomfield – came up with an alternative plan to build a ten-mile toll highway north of Golden (not through Golden) using private investment dollars.

We oppose this new proposal, known as the Jefferson Parkway, just as we oppose the beltway itself, but it’s tougher for us to stop because it isn’t within our city limits and because it doesn’t directly rely on public funding. The proponents have two main hurdles remaining. One is getting property they need along Indiana from the U.S. Department of Interior, and the other is getting the financing from the private sector. Why is Golden addressing the beltway issue right now? It’s because the proponents are very close to getting this property, and they are very close to going to the market for the investment dollars. If they raise the money, our only remaining option would be suing to try and stop them.

Can the proponents actually raise the capital needed to build the Jefferson Parkway? They are very optimistic about it, and while we are more skeptical the reality is that we don’t know. We believe anyone who invests in the Jefferson Parkway will lose their shirt, but clearly there are investors out there willing to throw down huge sums on bad deals. It’s also clear that the Jefferson Parkway proponents are going to move forward with their funding effort regardless of what we think.

In other words, our hand is now being forced, and we need to pick which strategy we believe gives us the best chance of keeping the beltway out of Golden: either trying to reach an agreement that protects Golden from the beltway and from the impacts of growing traffic through our valley, or don’t try reaching an agreement and instead look at trying to stop them through litigation. I’ve written elsewhere about the risks and tradeoffs with those options, and our www.GetTheFactsGolden.com website also has a very thorough rundown.

We brought all of this to the community in early December, as well as information about a potential agreement with Jefferson County, and asked you – everyone in the community – what you think. We put up a web site (www.GetTheFactsGolden.com) with the background information, we hosted four neighborhood meetings, and we’ve responded to a ton of email messages, returned tons of phone calls, and had numerous one-on-one conversations around town. We’ve done our best to provide all of the relevant information as candidly and accurately as possible, to answer all of your questions, and to listen carefully to all of your thoughts and ideas. More than 400 people attended the neighborhood meetings and the website logged nearly 2,000 visits.

A lot of folks have asked about the comment cards we collected during the neighborhood meetings. I’ve read them all carefully twice now, and will read them again before the 24th. About one-third of the folks that expressed an opinion on our options supported a “no agreement” view. About two-thirds of the folks that expressed opinions voiced support for trying to reach an agreement (roughly half of those supported the potential agreement we described as Option #2 and roughly half supporting an enhanced agreement). Some of the folks I talked with at the neighborhood meetings weren’t Golden residents, so these numbers probably include some Jeffco and Arvada residents (and I imagine that some of the anonymous comments were non-local as well). While I’m certainly considering their perspectives, my job as mayor is obviously to look out for Golden first.

Quite a few of the comments were either questions or just didn’t have clear opinions about our options. Some said they want to sue and to get the Golden Plan; of course if we thought we could do both we would. Some simply expressed opposition to the Jefferson Parkway or to the beltway coming through Golden, which are views that most everyone shares but which don’t shed light on which strategy they prefer.

I encourage you to download and read all of the comments yourself (go to the Feb. 24 agenda and click on “Comments from Public Input meetings”). You’ll find a wide array of views that I think accurately represents the diversity of views within our community.

These numbers are important, but this decision doesn’t reduce to a numbers game. In fact, one of the most helpful results of our neighborhood meetings is that so many of the comment cards (in addition to many of the emails, phone calls, and one-on-one conversations) raise insightful thoughts, useful perspectives, and helpful suggestions.

Based on all of the discussion and input we’ve heard, as well as any additional input we get in the next week and on February 24, the City Council is planning to make a decision that evening about our general direction moving forward. This is a complicated issue and our community has to choose between imperfect options. I haven’t yet made a decision about the best strategy for keeping the beltway out of Golden – I won’t until the 24th – but I have carefully read and considered every comment I’ve received, and I believe that everyone on City Council is doing the same.

We posted the City Council packet online ahead of schedule – it went up two days ago – to give everyone more time to review all of the documents and materials. You can download the entire packet on the City Council web page. If you have any other thoughts or questions, please shoot me an email or attend the City Council meeting on February 24 starting at 7pm at City Hall.