Mayor Paul Addresses Southern Gables
Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, and has always been a friend of Southern Gables. We were honored to have him speak at our 2023 annual meeting. He gave us an update on a number of issues and concerns.
First, starting with an item of concern that is literally right through the heart of Southern Gables, Mayor Paul relayed some information from our Ward 5 Councilor Mary Janssen. She has been looking into the problem of the weed-choked, overgrown ditch that has plagued the neighborhood for years. The Ag Ditch Company has characteristically refused to maintain it weed-free. (For some background on the history, read our story A Big Improvement from 2019.) She reached an agreement with the Ag Ditch Company that they will mow the east side once during the summer. However, they will not mow the west side. If the ditch company is requested to mow at any other time it will cost the neighborhood $1,800 per side. Residents are permitted to mow the ditch property, but the ditch company and Councilor Janssen did not address the question of liability. The fact that the Ag Ditch Company has legal rights that are senior to the City’s rights makes them hard to deal with. Increased awareness of wildfire danger has added a layer of frustration with the situation as well.
Mayor Paul discussed the recently approved “Navigation Centers” – These Navigation Centers will provide transitional housing for persons experiencing homelessness. There are several shelters for animals in Jefferson County, but no homeless shelters in the County for human beings. This past winter there was an incremental step forward, at the Whitlock Center on Colfax which was opened for severe weather sheltering during the most extreme cold. The city also started a day work program. The goal is to put 20 to 30 people a week to work cleaning parks and picking up shopping carts. The Mayor told us how to learn more about the Navigators: here is a link to information on the City’s blog: Navigators Help the Homeless. (For related information, this is a CBS Denver story about the warming center at Whitlock: Lakewood focuses on resources for those experiencing homelessness.)
Zoning – Mayor Paul told us about the recent zoning bill, which would take away some of the local zoning control. Each property would allow for an 8-plex to be built on the existing property. It is a hot topic with lots of controversy.
Lakewood has a new Police Chief, Philip Smith – Crime and crime reduction is a focus of the city council. Crime is up in Lakewood, especially on Colfax and particularly with car thefts. The new chief’s goals and the city of Lakewood’s goals are to find ways to better enhance public safety.
Economic Development – On Tenth and Sheridan, in the old Holiday strip center, a developer purchased this location with goal of developing the land into a mixed-use property with housing and businesses. Economic development funds will be given from the City of Lakewood. The city will give the developer a $1 million loan to scrape what is currently on the lot.
Parks – The new park on Wadsworth at Morrison, Peak View Park, will be open to the public in the next four or five weeks. The City of Lakewood is working with CDOT to reconfigure the Wadsworth and Morrison Road intersection to accommodate increased traffic going to the new park. When Mayor Paul began his term nearly eight years ago, the City of Lakewood had 101 parks and now we have 113 parks. A lot of TABOR dollars, as approved by Lakewood voters, went to the development of the parks.
Questions from the group – On the question of getting CDOT to put a traffic light at Evans and Wadsworth, There has not been any progress. It’s a difficult problem since it would complicate the situation with the light just north of Jewell; it was a bad choice to put one so close to Jewell in the first place, but the fact is that it’s there, and putting another equally close on the other side has been denied several times since it is thought that it would make a bad situation worse. As with any problem that a resident sees and thinks should be fixed, Mayor Paul said that the thing to do is report it. Persistence, and getting your neighbors involved to report problems as well, can pay off in getting attention focused.
In response to a question about the new housing on Wadsworth and 13th, they are apartments. To the observation that there is not much parking on the site, Mayor Paul explained the plan of having growth corridors – The City of Lakewood is planning housing projects in areas around transit lines, where many if not most of the residents can easily use public transportation: specifically near Belmar, Colfax, and Denver West.
Question about getting a sidewalk on Morrison to get to the park – it’s a CDOT road. CDOT has offered the road to Lakewood, but this is not a great deal for Lakewood taxpayers. Maybe over time.
Question – plans for mitigation of storm damage in the parks, like downed trees and branches, etc. – the Mayor said the Parks Department is pretty active, but sometimes they do just leave large areas of the parks for natural habitat. In response to a complaint about a specific downed branch in a conspicuous place at the park at Florida and Garrison, the mayor said he would put in a request for that branch to be removed.
Mayor Paul thanked us as a group for “always being friendly” to him during his tenure as Mayor, now nearing the end of eight years’ elected service. We like to think of Southern Gables as a decidedly friendly place, so we’re glad to note the feeling is mutual.
Official meeting minutes of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association Annual Business Meeting will be published as a comment to this article as a matter of record, within the next week.