Planned agenda items during the annual community forum were covered quickly and were generally well received by the audience. It was during the final 30 minutes of Q/A where the focus of the meeting and tone changed direction. The annual forum began with an overview from this author of SUN’s existing committees, elections, and by-law update. The latter two passed unanimously, bringing the total number of board members to 13, and operating principles to Article II of SUN’s bylaws.
Police Update: Lt. Culverhouse from Denver Police Department (DPD) followed, reporting crime at a low level for Denver communities when measured year-to-date and versus the previous 30 days. Two exciting announcements: a new program called swift 911, which could potentially connect 911 systems across the country, and plans for a DPD-staffed dunk tank for June 2–3 during the Northfield Mall Carnival. Chief White, Commander Ron Thomas, and Lt. Culverhouse will each take a turn in the tank, with funds raised to cover utility bills for the Community HUB at Northfield Mall.
MCA Update: Keven Burnett, executive director of the Stapleton MCA, began with a differentiation between the operational, maintenance, event-planning role of the MCA versus the volunteer community advocacy role of SUN. Burnett announced over 4,000 swim lessons are planned for the summer (pools open Memorial Day weekend), with space still available for daytime classes and later-summer classes. Marking an end to the porta-potty era in Stapleton, restrooms for summer events at Founders Green will be available at the new Mint apartment building in the 29th Ave. Town Center (when open) and at The Cube for events on the North Green.
Denver Parks: Scott Gilmore, speaking for Denver Parks and Recreation, announced a new designation of parkland in Stapleton near The Urban Farm to be part of Sand Creek Greenway, and a detention pond in Northfield that functions as a wildlife habitat. Many parks north of I-70 will be opening late this summer. As indicated by signage, please stay off and keep pets off green spaces when grasses and other plantings are taking root.
I-70 Construction Project: Rebecca White from CDOT and Eric Herbst from Northeast Transportation Connections discussed upcoming impacts from the I-70 project, including promises of limiting lane closures to evenings and weekends, containing the construction to within five years, waivers to focus hires on the local workforce, and efforts to ease the trouble of displacement for residents of 56 homes that will be eliminated as part of the expansion.
Fire Station, CPB Bridge & MLK Extension: Bar Chadwick, City of Denver, discussed three funded projects in the community: 1) a fire station at 50th and Central Park Blvd. (CPB) serving the community north of I-70 (opening approximately June 2019; 2) Expansion of CPB Bridge across Sand Creek, approximately a one-year project starting November 2017; and 3) the MLK Blvd, connection to Peoria St.—delayed while the need for a sound mitigation wall is assessed and an official vote will be taken of resident preferences who live in the area by the end of May.
Forest City Update: Tom Gleason from Forest City summarized areas still in development including commercial development at Peoria and MLK, and 810 homes springing up in Beeler Park.
Councilman Chris Herndon was present to answer questions and remind us to look out for the $900 million bonds focused on infrastructure and mobility projects to be voted on this fall.
Dr. Rachele Espiritu , school board member, introduced herself to the room as a resource for answering questions during Q/A.
Q/A at the Forum
Two main topics were the focus of the Q/A section: Co-location of DSST at Northfield, and rezoning of Filing 5, the three-acre parcel, southeast corner of CPB and Martin Luther King (MLK) Blvd.
Directing heated feedback to Dr. Espiritu, residents vocalized displeasure with the announced plans for co-location of DSST high school on the Sandoval Campus Northfield High School (NHS) that is taking root and climbing in enrollment. Espiritu attempted to assuage concerns about overcrowding by stating if enough boundary students want to attend, the campus might eventually house only NHS.
Residents adjacent to Filing 51 voiced concerns with rezoning, to R-Mx-5, which would allow for a five-story development. Forest City proposed the rezoning at the January SUN meetings. They have not announced specific plans for development, but stated higher density is preferred along the major corridor. In June, SUN will vote whether to write in support of a lower height limit to City Council.
Block Captain Network and Block Party Day
After the forum, one resident asked SUN about the current status of the block captain network, how many blocks exist in Stapleton, have block captains, how many block captains are truly active, and how many participate with DPD in Neighborhood Watch. The list of block captains is around 260 residents; however, as the board reorganizes during the June meeting, we will be taking stock of where the network needs to be filled in and will be contacting block captains on neighboring blocks for help. Often as a block(s) gets together to plan Block Party Day (this year: during Denver Days August 5–13) the preferred contact with SUN changes. Please help SUN keep our contact list current by emailing updates. If you are unsure who is, or whether there is, a SUN block captain on your block, or have an update for your block’s contact information, email SUNoutreach@gmail.com.
SUN is also interested in help from the community for a map-based automation of the process of keeping the block captain contact list current and the connection of neighbors on a block with the appropriate block captain. If you have technological skills to donate for the completion of this effort, or simply suggestions on how to get started, email SUNoutreach@gmail.com.
June 20 SUN meeting
The SUN board will meet at 6:30pm for reorganization after the May election. Please attend this meeting if you are interested in working on a committee with SUN. We will begin with a vote on a letter about the topic of rezoning Filing 51 and briefly discuss dissemination of survey results. Block Captain meetings will resume in August.