Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are People in North Denver's future?‏

by Tom Anthony via email

Although the planning effort for I-70 which commenced in 2001 is in the final comment period for the East Corridor Environmental Impact Statement, questions still abound as to the future of Elyria neighborhood. While the general concept for the I-70 "cut and cover" has long-standing support from the north neighborhoods, the current CDOT preferred option vastly reduces local access to the interstate and removes the York/Josephine/University Blvd. connection to I-70: a connection to Denver's only direct crosstown arterial east of Colorado Blvd. While the location for Denver's North Metro Station at 48th and Brighton Blvd was established in 2009, five years later virtually no Transit Oriented Development zoning exists in Elyria, and no neighborhood plan either. Therefore highway planners presume little or no change, and why should they? Here in 2014 with no neighborhood plan existing, traffic demand estimates are as ephemeral as paved alleys. Consequently, into the final month of I-70 planning and with contemplated access from the interstate to the neighborhoods being halved, one can only imagine that the City of Denver has no intent to see people actually living near the North Metro commuter rail station. This presumption is bolstered by the realization that the City Council recently forked over almost $900,000 in public money to have Parsons Brinkerhoff scribble napkin drawings for up to $1.3 billion in new facilities for the National Western Stock Show.

While our neighborhood's designation as a "food desert" (except for dog food) has been inaccurately attributed to lack of greenhouses, the neighbors themselves have known for years that without more rooftops, translating to a bigger local population, our quest for a grocery store and other retail (not to mention a laundromat) would be in vain. At long last with the anticipated arrival of the RTD North Metro FasTracks station we assumed that enough people to make the station a good regional investment might be forthcoming, especially considering our proximity to the Platte River Greenway and of course, given the poignant features of our historic townships: Riverside Cemetery, ASARCO, Purina, and the Denver Impound.

Mayor Hancock's North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative was intended to economically mesh the various planning efforts to maximize the value of our public investment dollars in North Denver. Instead, the north neighborhoods look on grandiose visions in vain for signs of a new school, a new recreation center, and any grocery store whatsoever amongst schemes for mosquito farms, exhibition halls, parking lots and arenas. After defunding two neighborhood rec centers and converting Elyria School to a regional mental health clinic, perhaps dog agility really is our only hope. At any rate the comment period on the $1.3 billion I-70 rebuild ends in October, and all Elyria knows for sure is that we're supposed to lose half of our interstate access. That's a prime indicator that no more people are wanted in Denver County north of I-70; begging the question, are the Cornerstoners hallucinating, or simply kissing our aspirations (and grocery store) goodbye?
Tom Anthony
5001 National Western Drive
Denver, CO 80216


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