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Great topic, and great article Joel.
George, two years ago I understood your mood. Understood you had to say your piece. I don't get it anymore. Do you really need to bring everyone down a notch? Innuendo will do? These are decent people, and you are better than this.
Great advice in your columns.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you Tony.
Your recent experience and introspection is valuable feedback for identifying boundaries of trust. I think the disclosure you suggest is needed.
Like everyone else, my tour on planning commission involved a Tony Lettunich briefing on conflict of interest in city process. This was 2005.
Tony described our established "conflict" precedent in terms of my question - realtors on council and development permits. Should a councilor step down when his brokerage represents current, past, or subsequent activity on that parcel? The answer was, and remains, "no". My words here, not Tony's, but the reasoning I recall is this: 10 to 100 to 1,000 of us receive some level of benefit from a given project. It can be very small, unintentional, or impossible to avoid. If we barred councilors because of a minute but perceived connection to a project, quorums would be impossible and we would eliminate some useful expertise from the conversation. Next you have the difficulty of setting where the level of benefit meets a standard of true "conflict". It can be hazy at best. The result, as I understand it, is realtors do not step down when their firm represents the applicant. Ditto for engineers, contractors, bankers, accountants, architects and surveyors, etc.
The above is good reason for allowing councilors to participate with indirect, vague or very small benefit. But it does seem wise to let the public know what those benefits are. The end result will be improved trust of city process.
Only after a certain date were properties required to provide sidewalks, and even then only when redeveloping. So many owners are not required build a sidewalk. The corner owners of my block on Oak will not be investing in a sidewalk. This forces our clients to walk in the street to reach us. What is your suggested solution?
I would trim much of the list. Some items are long neglected infrastructure needs, but many are not. Sidewalks and lighting are basic infrastructure, and belong in the CIP budget.
The TIF impacts the funding of other entities. That is a big negative. But they do have URA blight designation in the bag:
The link has detailing of blight designation done elsewhere in Colorado. You need 4 of the 11 categories to be true in the area considered. At first glance, 4 is tough, but look at the elements considered within each category. Then I count 4, maybe 5 categories that apply downtown.
Pedestrian circulation through downtown would be a joke, if it were not first a disgrace.
Yes, our downtown is blighted. And severely so, presenting both economic impediment and safety hazard the moment you leave Lincoln Ave. Not sure if TIF is the best alternative for the mitigating funds, but blight designation is a given.
Another reason for complete sidewalks is the downtown parking problem. The primary antidote to parking problems is improved pedestrian mobility.
I'm open to hearing all the alternatives to fund safer streets and achieve true pedestrian mobility downtown. Not open to waiting more years for the sidewalks and pedestrian lighting. Hard to understand how these fell below other city projects. Downtown sidewalks and lighting for both Oak and Yampa were imminent CIP projects in the budgets before the recession.
Please consider following the example of the County Commissioners, and walk the length of Oak St at 5-6pm on a winter evening. I think you will agree, little of the street is attractive or safe. Yampa St has less of the same problem, but more people are affected.
Our property does have sidewalk and lighting. Unfortunately the end lots of the block do not. Some of our clientele are very young, some are very old. 15 years of watching them walk into a dark street is enough. I'm not convinced the city should use a TIF to fix the problem. I am convinced the city should fix the problem.
It seems a question of city priorities. On their way to other spending, I hope city council will also walk my street.
My slow typing, and the 15 minute editor limit, prevented another improvement to my own post above. (I wonder how often Pilot reporters feel the same after a deadline is met.)
Better to recognize that "opportunity" does exist in municipal decisions. Every constituent will tell you though, the fundamental ground for governing is "responsibility".
For example, it has frustrated me throughout the police station discussion how the city arguments are at one hearing about police needs, and another hearing about resolving the Iron Horse problem, and another hearing about removing a dead zone on Yampa St., and another hearing about anchoring the good fellows at BAP to our town for a longer term. Throughout this array of arguments, foremost in my mind is the size of this outlay. It is the largest ever and will affect the city's meeting remaining responsibilities over the next decade as reserves are rebuilt. In my frame of the question, some of these packets were non-starters. The size of the outlay begs it be about responsibility, not opportunity.
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