Residents share ideas, concerns at Heart of Golden workshops

Traffic, open space and accessibility brought up

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/18/20

When city staff came calling on residents to provide their ideas for the future of the Clear Creek corridor, Goldenites delivered. At meetings held on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, residents crowded into the …

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Residents share ideas, concerns at Heart of Golden workshops

Traffic, open space and accessibility brought up

Posted

When city staff came calling on residents to provide their ideas for the future of the Clear Creek corridor, Goldenites delivered.

At meetings held on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, residents crowded into the city council chambers to write their ideas onto sticky notes and place them onto satellite maps of the corridor stretching from Ford Street to Sixth Avenue.

The visioning meetings were the first in a series, during which city staff and residents will work together to develop a plan for the future of the corridor following the city’s purchase of 7.27 acres belonging to MillerCoors last year. The city is calling it the “Heart of Golden” project.

“When we did this two weeks ago the room was standing room only and spilling out into the hall,” said Golden City Manager Jason Slowinski. “The crowd is smaller tonight but we still have a lot of people and I think it’s gone real well and we’ve gotten a lot of comments.”

Those comments — represented by the sticky notes written on by the meeting attendees — represented a variety of passionately held citizen visions and concerns ranging from to.

Among the residents who made suggestions was Tom Wheaton, a resident of Golden’s Longridge neighborhood, who said he wants to see the city demolish the Coors office building on the new property and relocate municipal buildings like city hall and the police department there, freeing up those building lcoations for open space and recreation.

“I think it makes sense because that area (near the Coors brewery) feels industrial already and then that area west of Washington Street could be for true recreation,” Wheaton said.

However, Wheaton said he also had another reason for wanting to attend the meeting: his desire to ensure that the needs of the disabled are taken into account in the conversation.

“I would love for us to exceed minimum standards for access so that mommies with strollers, elderly people with walkers and certainly me, a man in a wheelchair, can just feel free to enjoy it all,” said Wheaton.

Wheaton said he feels Golden has exceeded such standards in the past and that he wants to see it continue to do so.

Jared Bynum, a Denver resident who works in Golden, was there to provide a voice for a different issue.

“My biggest thing is just looking into the preservation of open space,” Bynum said. “I think Golden is just a really unique and special area in that there is already so much protected land around it and I think the heart of the town is really in that vibe of having lots of open space and having access to that open space.”

However, Bynum also acknowledged that there is a need to balance the need for open space with other issues, such as the need to provide more affordable housing, and that such a balancing act is often difficult.

Resident Bob Toohill, who lives directly across the street from Lions Park, expressed a more fundamental concern.

"It is an absolute zoo on weekends,” Toohill said of Clear Creek and the surrounding neigborhoods. “And the city doesn’t seem to know how to manage the parking situation, the tragic and the other problems and it becomes a health and safety issue.”

Toohill said that while he also supports the city’s purchase of the Coors property and the possibility of relocating city buildings to the site, he feels the city needs to have a better plan to control crowds before it builds anything that would attract even more people to Golden.

“I would treat the creek like a beach on a hot summer day with police out there and lifeguards and stuff,” he said. “Right now, it seems like complete anarchy.”

Many of the sticky notes echoed Toohill’s comments, with several writing notes of support on a sticky note with the message “focus on Goldenites not visitors.”

With the visioning meetings now complete, Slowinski said the city will now turn its attention to translating the ideas into concepts for the creek, which will be presented at two meetings scheduled for March and April when residents will have the chance to provide feedback on those concepts.

To produce those concepts, Slowinski said city staff will work with a consulting group to try to group common themes that emerge from the visioning sessions together and develop them based on those themes.

It is a little difficult but what we will do is take all of this input and probably try to put common themes o together some people talk about transportation group those kinds of comments and group kind of different comments that are related actually have a consultant going to help us put together some concept drawings take all the drawings put together in plan.

The high number of responses received could make that process somewhat difficult, he said. However, its one both city staff and residents are excited to move forward with.

“I think the people I’ve chatted with are excited about the opportunity to have input on something cool for Golden,” Slowinski said.

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