With my first year as the Mayor of Wheat Ridge nearly at its end, I am grateful to look back at what an honor it has been to serve this city. It has been an exciting year filled with opportunities …
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With my first year as the Mayor of Wheat Ridge nearly at its end, I am grateful to look back at what an honor it has been to serve this city. It has been an exciting year filled with opportunities for development and growth, while thoughtfully managing change in ways that also honor our rich history. It has been rewarding to see the energy and engagement of our residents and businesses at our city council meetings and study sessions as well as in volunteer opportunities on boards and commissions, and on Sustainable Wheat Ridge, the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy, and Outside Agencies committees. I want to express my thanks to council members and city staff for working with me to set a tone of efficiency, cooperation, courtesy, and respect which has allowed us to move through the important work of city government on behalf of our wonderful community.
In 2018, we saw progress on the new Clear Creek Crossing project west of I-70 in the Applewood area that will bring new retail, entertainment, residential, and employment opportunities. Council also approved rezoning the Transit Oriented Development (TOD), called Base Camp, near the G Line commuter rail. We continue to be optimistic that RTD will receive approval to open in the spring of 2019. I am also proud of the work by council for their well-considered approval of development, looking favorably on some in-fill projects while sending others back for future consideration.
We were excited to welcome Lucky’s Market and new retail shops at 38th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, The Corners at Wheat Ridge, as construction continues on the residential portion of that site. Nearby, West End 38 started construction as an anchor to the 38th Avenue redevelopment, and at Applewood Shopping Center we’ll see new tenants in the old Walmart space as Hacienda Colorado goes up on the west side with a rooftop view of the foothills. Council also supported legislation that passed in the fall election allowing the city access to additional revenues from the increased sales tax for 2E projects including Anderson Park renovations, Wadsworth improvements, Clear Creek Crossing hook ramps, and TOD infrastructure.
This year Wheat Ridge City Council also took action on a number of issues including construction hours, small-scale cell sites that were approved and freestanding emergency rooms, which were not. The sign code was updated to comply with new Supreme Court decisions, the cultural vision for the city was restated, electrical fences were approved with conditions, and support for a statewide ban on conversion therapy was endorsed. Support was also provided to The Action Center for services to those experiencing homelessness and to Jefferson Center for Mental Health providing withdrawal management services for our residents. To address the increased demand for building department reviews and inspections and provide better service, the city made the decision to contract with an outside professional firm specializing in this work.
At every public meeting, council heard from residents and business owners on a wide variety of topics including affordable housing, Accessory Dwelling Units and short-term rentals; building heights and bulk plane; and mental health, healthy eating/active living, and the effects of marijuana, smoking, and vaping on our community. A community-wide process to engage in the revision of the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) began to gather input and ideas to renew the vision for our future as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as a city in 2019.
I continue to appreciate the hard work of our staff, the thoughtful deliberations of our elected officials, and the countless hours of dedicated service provided by volunteers throughout our community who strive to make this such a wonderful place to live, work and play. With my best wishes to you and yours this holiday season and the hope that the New Year brings peace, love and joy.
Bud Starker is mayor of Wheat Ridge.
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