At its June meeting, the Westerly Creek Metro District (WCMD) formed a District Strategic Planning Committee “to better guide this board into the future”, in the words of David Ungemah who was appointed committee chair. The committee will hold its first meeting in August or September. Members are expected to include representatives of other Stapleton area entities such as the Park Creek Metro District, (PCMD) the Master Community Association and the Stapleton Foundation.
WCMD chair Tom Downey said the intent is to “provide some sort of blueprint” for the district’s roles and responsibilities both in the short term and “50 years from now when all the property will be transferred, all the infrastructure will be in, the Stapleton Development Corporation will be gone, all the debt will have been paid off. Our successors are going to need to decide – do we keep the taxes, as they are, at a reduced rate? What about new infrastructure and repairs to existing infrastructure?”
The WCMD was established in 2000 and collects the tax that funds the construction of Stapleton’s infrastructure not covered by tax increment financing (TIF). The district is required by intergovernmental agreement to pass on all its revenue to PCMD, which ultimately makes the decisions on construction of infrastructure. The WCMD board also votes to legally bring in the new Stapleton property that is added to the district’s tax base as Forest City purchases property from Denver through the Stapleton Development Corporation.
The May 2016 election for the first time resulted in a WCMD board comprised entirely of Stapleton residents. Because there were no residents when redevelopment of Stapleton began, the WCMD board was comprised largely of developer and city of Denver representatives. By design, the PCMD board continues with that mix. The new composition of the WCMD board reflects the maturation of Stapleton as build-out approaches.
At the June meeting, Ungemah asked rhetorically, “Are we evolving to the point where this board will have to make decisions on future infrastructure improvements? What is the relationship between the Park Creek and Westerly Creek metro districts? Here is the opportunity to involve people in decisions about where they live. There is an expectation from the neighbors that we are looking out for them.”
Downey suggested the district could play a stronger role in Green Book oversight, i.e., ensuring that the original vision for Stapleton redevelopment is achieved. New WCMD board member Justin Ross said he hopes the district will watch over affordable housing “until the last nail is done.”
All meetings of the committee will be posted and open to the public and will follow the district’s monthly board meeting that starts at 9 am on the fourth Thursday of each month. The meetings will be held at the SDC offices, 7350 E. 29th Avenue.