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Mayor and City Council Dessert, February 21, 2012

Meeting summary from the Westminster Mayor & City Council Dessert and Conversation

February 21, 2012, at DeVry University, 1870 W. 122nd Avenue.

Mayor Nancy McNally and members of Westminster City Council held a conversation with approximately 50 Westminster residents on their concerns, suggestions and questions about the Westminster community. The following questions and topics were discussed; additional information on each of these topics follows below:

Is there a movement to change the density at the McStain Development located at 96th and Sheridan? Have water taps been pulled?

There has not been any proposed change to density for the site generally known as Hyland Village. One of the parcel owners proposed to build apartments, rather than for sale condos, due to what they described as difficulty in obtaining financing and having enough market for the condo product at that location. This application is on hold, pending the property owners’ discussions about how this will affect HOA obligations and "dues" structure for the community. The project has stalled due to litigation amongst the property owners and coming out of bankruptcy regarding McStain. Water taps have been pulled for the existing units on the site; and there are approvals still in place for the remaining houses and townhouses approved previously.

How and when was the public art program started.

In 1991, the Westminster City Council enacted a hotel tax and placed all of the proceeds in the Community Enhancement Fund. This fund provides money to support a variety of programs to improve the physical appearance of the city. Over the years, this fund has been used to purchase public art pieces, including Jungle Gym by Jane DeDecker at City Hall. The city has also received grant funds from the Denver metro area Scientific and Cultural Facilities District to purchase art. In 1996, develop Jim Sullivan opened the Westminster City Center Marketplace shopping center at 92nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard. This beautiful project with an Italian architectural expression incorporated 35 separate art pieces, including frescoes, tile mosaics and the iconic Dolphins by George Lundeen. This project demonstrated how public art could complement architecture in commercial projects.

Based on the success of the Westminster City Center Marketplace project, City Council enacted a requirement in 200l that developers include public art in all non-residential projects. Westminster is one of only a handful of cities nationwide with such a program. Under this program, public art has been integrated into several commercial projects, including The Shops at Walnut Creek, Westminster Promenade and The Orchard Town Center. Westminster's public art program is now recognized as one of the finest in Colorado.

Check out all the public art on the city website.

What’s the latest on FasTracks and city’s position on rail?

Thursday, March 1, is the last day RTD is accepting comments on three alternatives for the Northwest Rail segment of the FasTracks system. Because one of the options includes eliminating rail service to the corridor (Option 3), the City of Westminster is urging its residents to contact RTD and make it clear that rail service needs to be part of any alternative that moves ahead in the planning stage.  Both Options 1 and 2 include rail service.

Read about the options and provide comments on the RTD website.

In 2004 voters approved a regional, interconnected rail transit system for the future of the region and the future of Westminster. The Northwest Rail segment, which brings commuter rail service from Denver Union Station to Boulder and Longmont, is the last to be built as part of the FasTracks plan. Until recently, the cost of the segment was estimated at about $895 million. Following additional design work completed late last year, RTD raised that estimate to as high as $1.7 billion, depending on year of completion. As a result, RTD is now considering an option that would eliminate rail and instead add to the existing bus service along the U.S. 36 corridor.

RTD’s Board of Directors is planning to select an option during a March 8 meeting. That option would then be fleshed out, with an eye toward including it as part of a 2012 election to increase the current FasTracks sales tax by 0.4 percent.

Westminster City Council continues to be adamant that rail must be a part of any option. Rail is vital to the future economic development of the corridor, and the city has planned and invested over the past several years with rail in mind. The residents along this corridor have paid their fair share of the taxes to support the entire system and RTD should fulfill its obligation. Creative solutions to funding shortages have been found for other corridors, and solutions can be found for the Northwest Rail segment as well.

Following the last two snowstorms, some turn lanes and intersections were clogged with ice and snow. What is the reason for this?

Cold temperatures compounded by two heavy volume snowstorms experienced this winter season, particularly the storm of Feb. 2-4, are the main reasons. Typically melting of snow windrows occurs fairly quickly and they are generally gone in a day or two. This year’s cold temperatures prolonged melting of windrows, coupled with new snow arriving before the previous had melted. In some cases after streets are cleared, heavy snow from sidewalks has been placed (either by plowing or snow blower) onto turn lanes, as well as acceleration and deceleration lanes. Trucks are redeployed to plow these accumulations over toward the curb without placing the snow on the sidewalk and to apply deicer as needed. On narrow, constantly shaded sections of arterial and collector roadways, snow windrows are removed. Please do not hesitate to report problem areas at streets@cityofwestminster.us or call 303-658-2501. Concerns will be attended to as soon as promptly as possible.

There are lots of potholes in the city. Who do we contact to get them fixed?

The City of Westminster takes pride in a 24-hour response to pothole reports. Calls can be made to the Street Operations Division at 303-658-2501 or e-mail us to report a pothole within Westminster's city limits.

To report potholes on state highways - e-mail CDOT at info@dot.state.co.us.

State-maintained roads include: 120th Avenue, Wadsworth Parkway, Federal Boulevard, U.S. 36 and Sheridan Boulevard from 69th Avenue north to 88th Place (Westminster maintains Sheridan Boulevard from the north side of the U.S. 36 bridge at 88th Place north to 120th Avenue).

How is the jail capacity cap with Adams County working?

The City of Westminster is complying with the Adams County municipal jail inmate cap of five municipal inmates. Most misdemeanor crimes are defined by both municipal ordinance and state statute. The advantages of charging in municipal court versus state court are several. Some of these advantages are: the municipal court is local and thus more convenient for victims, witnesses, suspects and police officers, who are often required to attend court. The docket is usually less crowded than state courts so generally cases are processed more quickly and more efficiently. Municipal judges are more likely to reflect local community priorities and values, when sentencing, than county court judges. In the Adams County portion of Westminster many misdemeanor offenders are now being charged with a state statute violation, into county court versus being charged into municipal court with a city ordinance violation. In the Jefferson County portion of Westminster most misdemeanor defendants are being charged into municipal court consistent with past practice. In the Adams County portion of Westminster the big change is that many more defendants from Westminster and other Adams County municipalities are now being put into the county court system. The concern is the ability of the county court, court staff, district attorney's office and others to cope with the increased volume of defendants while ensuring that justice is served and criminals are held appropriately accountable for their offenses.

I have a burglar alarm which is centrally monitored. I understand that Westminster police are not obligated to respond if the call is not placed by the homeowner. Is that true?

The Westminster Police Department has an informed response policy. Here in Westminster, as nationally, 98-99 percent of alarms are false alarms. In an effort to maximize resources and efficiency, police will respond if there is verification of the alarm or some additional indicator the alarm is valid, such as a witness reporting suspicious activity or persons, or an alarm company that is monitoring the residence by either video or audio surveillance, or if the alarm company receives multiple alarm zone trips, or if the area is known to have had recent trespass or burglary activity. Complete information on the response policy is on the city website.

Westminster Hills Open Space is beginning to digress again. Are there plans to revegetate?

Westminster Hills Open Space is entering into the third year after the prairie dog die-off from a bubonic plague outbreak in 2009. The vegetation at the site continues to go through a natural succession of plant species, with native grasses increasing each year. As with any plant growing endeavor, the success of the establishment of native plants is largely dependent on the weather and the amount of moisture that is received every year. City staff will continue to monitor this site closely and, if needed, will initiate re-seeding on selected areas. Although still in planning stages, prescribed burns are also a future possibility on this site, which would aid in the revitalization of the native grasses and the control of noxious weeds.

What’s the update on the mall redevelopment?

  • There’s not a lot we can make public just yet, but things are going very well with the redevelopment of the 105 acres that was the Westminster Mall – we are working very closely with a potential developer and hope to announce something very soon.
  • Please continue to frequent the businesses there – they all appreciate your patronage – U.S. Bank, Olive Garden, JCPenney, Brunswick Zone, Dr. Lamont McMurtrey, and until around the end of June Sears and the Sears Auto Center.
  • We do anticipate a public visioning process for the new development to start very soon – probably in March of this year. Everyone will be invited to share their ideas.
  • This is an exciting project of community building and we hope to engage our entire community in the excitement of a new era for Westminster.
  • We have a dedicated website for this project where breaking news is posted before or at the same time it hits the news media…if you’re interested in following this project closely please bookmark www.westminstercenter.us.

Demolition update:

  • Macys, Wards, and Mervyns have been demolished as has the Trail Dust Restaurant,  Steak n Ale and the theatres.
  • The current phase of demolition, which includes the remainder of the inline space and the former Dillards building, is about 50% complete.
  • Demolition activity is anticipated to be completed later in the summer, leaving JC Penney, Olive Garden, Brunswick Zone, Dr. McMurtrey and U.S. Bank all still on the site and open for business.
  • The demolition contractor, American Demolition, is recycling most of the residue from the deconstruction.

What did the most recent sales tax figures show trend wise? Is the Orchard on a slight incline?

Preliminary 2011 figures indicate that city sales tax receipts increased by 4.3 percent over 2010. Total sales and use tax receipts, including building and auto use tax, increased by 0.8 percent. January 2012 sales tax receipts increased by 5.5 percent over 2011. Total sales and use tax receipts, including building and auto use tax, increased by 6.3 percent. City sales tax collections at The Orchard increased by 11.2 percent over 2010. They increased by 7.2 percent in January 2012 over January 2011.

What is happening with the City of Westminster recycling program?

Update on the recycling review process:

  • The process began in response to Council’s Strategic Plan where Council established their objective of a convenient recycling program for residents and businesses that would also include a high level of participation.  Establishing this objective was a combination of concerns from residents and the 2008 Citizen Survey results.  The survey found that 72 percent of respondents reported not using curbside recycling--30 percent because their hauler did not provide it, 27 percent because of cost and 22 percent because they did not know they could recycle at the curb.
  • The city spent 2010 studying the existing system, resulting in 25 opportunities identified to improve recycling.
  • Two public meetings were held in November 2010 to begin the conversation on how to improve recycling.
  • Volunteers stepped forward to be part of the Study Subcommittee of the Environmental Advisory Board in 2011.
  • This Subcommittee has been studying recycling in Westminster since the Fall of 2010
  • There membership on the subcommittee is very diverse, including licensed trash haulers that collect trash from residents in Westminster, business owners and residents
  • There is NO discussion of a single-hauler for the community or districting the city. Also not being discussed is a pay-as-you-throw trash collection system (sometimes known as a tiered rate system)
  • There is no time frame for a decision and the discussion is open
  • Comments, feedback, issues and concerns can be submitted via email (publicrecycle@cityofwestminster.us) or 303-706-3200 or via the "Westminster Green Team" page on Facebook. Complete information on the entire process is available on the Environmental section of the city website, www.cityofwestminster.us
  • This subcommittee has drafted options to improve recycling for businesses, multifamily units and single-family residents
  • These draft options were discussed with a Focus Group of 11 Westminster residents in January of 2012.  The reaction of this Focus Group will be provided to the subcommittee who will review their options and potentially change them
  • After the subcommittee has finalized their options, the Environmental Advisory Board will review them with City Council.  After this review, the Board will potentially hold additional public meetings with the community to discuss the options before making final recommendations to City Council.

Environmental overall:

  • The City's Staff Green Team's primary focus is internal
  • Only very few external projects the Green Team is working on: community recycling, education (in partnership with the EAB) and business partnerships
  • We are not working on a greenhouse gas inventory of the community or any other portion of a community sustainability plan
  • Westminster is no longer a member of ICLEI.  We did not renew the membership to ICLEI this year and do not have plans to renew in the future.

How do residents use the Household Hazardous Waste pickup.

City of Westminster residents can call the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Hotline at 303-706-3362 to request a free collection of their materials. Collections occur every two weeks year round. When calling, we ask for your address, telephone number and the type and amount of material you have for collection. Only one collection per year is allowed for each household.

*NEW* Latex paint-only collections are accepted with a minimum of 4 gallons. If the 4-gallon minimum cannot be met, residents can dry out latex paint by adding a small amount of kitty litter to the paint can. This will solidify the paint very quickly. Once the paint has solidified, place the can in the regular household trash with the lid off for disposal.

*NEW*One television set (any size), or complete computer system is included in the free collection when combined with other materials.

For additional program questions or to inquire about a specific material, please contact Carey Jensen at 303-658-2183.

Update on U.S. 36

Throughout the month of February, city staff have participated with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) personnel and other stakeholders along the U.S. 36 corridor in the review of proposals from three construction firms that are vying for an approximately $300 million contract to improve mobility on the highway. The main feature of the project will be the extension of the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes from their current terminus in the vicinity of Pecos Street and Federal Boulevard west to, at least, Interlocken in Broomfield. Other significant items of construction will be the replacement of the bridge that carries U.S. 36 over Lowell Boulevard; the demolition of the (Old) Wadsworth Boulevard overpass of the highway, which will be replaced with a new bridge on the 112th Avenue alignment; and the installation of a concrete bikeway that will parallel the highway.

The selection process for a contractor to perform this work is unique in that it is not the typical bidding procedure. Instead, CDOT officials have revealed to the three firms the amount of funding that is available to pay for the project. Also, CDOT has specified that, at a minimum, the selected contractor must agree to perform the “base project” that is defined above. However, the contractors are encouraged to include other items of construction within their proposals—still subject to the maximum $300 million payment— in order to be more competitive. For example, CDOT has suggested that the contractors may opt to extend the HOV lanes beyond Interlocken as part of their proposals. Or, the contractors may choose to replace the Sheridan Boulevard bridge in addition to the work defined in the “base project.” Therefore, all three proposals describe different scopes of work; the only constant is the amount of money that CDOT will pay. The chosen contractor will be the one who proposes to install the greatest or most enticing scope of work.

CDOT will announce the selected construction firm during the first week of March. Much final design work will need to be completed once the preferred scope of work is revealed, so motorists may not notice much activity along the highway until the fall of this year. But 2013 and 2014 promise to be very active years along the corridor, with frequent lane shifts as the widening occurs in phases. The project will be completed in 2015.