As one member of City Council and your former mayor, it was my goal to get the 2A and 2B ballot questions in front of the people of Wheat Ridge this year. Elections by the people are the ultimate public process.
The citizens of Wheat Ridge needed to have their voices heard about how their tax dollars are being spent. Additionally, elected officials needed to hear from the residents about the 38th Ave. road-diet pilot projects and its costs. The voters have spoken – I hope City Council is listening.
We are going need to find some common ground after this election, so let’s stop labeling each other. I’m not familiar with a “fighting all change” group or groups in Wheat Ridge. For the past 20 years the same people who were questioning the cost of the road-diet component of the 38th Ave. revitalization have supported change and moving forward with great projects. EVERYONE wants to see the revitalization of 38th Ave. and other parts of the City as it is described in the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS).
The 38th Ave. road-diet was not “ten years in the making”. I know, I was there. When I was mayor I appointed the original 38th Ave. Leadership Committee. The group was to begin the discussions and planning of moving the streetscape project forward west on 38th Ave. from Harlan St. Somewhere in the fog the “road-diet” was introduced by the consultants and City staff and this has created the split in the City. The echo chamber for the road-diet was created. As mayor, when I questioned the need and cost of the “road-diet” portion of the 38th Ave. revitalization, I was told by City staff, Wheat Ridge 2020 and some current/former members of City Council that, in so many words, “38th Ave. is a City Council and Wheat Ridge 2020 project, so butt out. We know what’s best”. That being said, it’s time for me to move on since I’m back on City Council with a full voice and vote. Let’s do it right this time.
Unfortunately, when someone questions the cost and need to narrow 38th Ave., they are accused of not wanting “any” change. I don’t believe this is the case. So to my point earlier, 2B needed to be voted on by the entire City.
There are many reasons that Wheat Ridge ballot question 2B failed (to name a few):
- The two lane “road-diet” component of the 38th revitalization pilot project
- The proposed “vision” in the ballot question (Who can vote on a “vision” with no cost associated with the “vision” in the ballot question)
- The cost of $9.3 million for 8 blocks to implement (much of the money spent underground and not above ground)
- Per above, the cost of digging up the street to move drain/water/sewer pipes inward
- The lack of trust of the City Council (previous and current), City staff and Wheat Ridge 2020
- Flawed implementation of the 38th pilot project (back-in parking, planters in the right-of-way, etc…)
- Blaming one segment of the Wheat Ridge population (older residents or longtime residents) for the failure of 2B at the ballot box is unprofessional and divisive. The implementation of the pilot project for 38th Ave. was flawed from the beginning and turned many people off. The implementation “process” was nothing more than and echo chamber for a small segment of the population. I know of many younger residents who voted NO on 2B, but still support moving forward with a more fiscally responsible design for the revitalization 38th Ave.
Again, the only way that this community is going to heal is to take a hard look at other options for 38th Ave. to create a win-win. Council directed staff to bring forth some other options forward in 2015. I look forward to seeing them and bringing the results to the greater community. I personally have no problems with any citizen initiated surveys. I make my decisions based on qualitative and quantitative data from the public, ALL of the public. So bring on the input from all sides.
Two quantitative, non-scientific citizen surveys are being conducted on my personal website. The surveys are from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge (CFIWR) and the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory Team (WRATAT) To take the surveys please visit www.jerryditullio.com. Both surveys are on the right of my Home page. I encourage everyone to take the survey as we look at different options for the revitalization of 38th Ave.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!