The past year was a busy one in Arvada — marked with record flooding, new development projects stirring up controversy, key Arvada players moving on to new careers while welcoming new people to fill their roles, and bans on marijuana.
Here are our top 10 stories of 2013:
In September, a week of torrential rainstorms created around $1 million dollars in damage throughout Arvada.
Alkire Street, Quaker Street and Indiana Street were closed due to substantial flooding done throughout those areas, including the streets, ranches, homes and schools in the area. Several students from Thomson Elementary and Swanson Elementary Schools were affected during a trip to the Mount Evans Outdoor Lab facility. The roadway leading to the site in Evergreen became impassible leaving students, volunteers and Outdoor Lab staff stranded until they could be evacuated.
Following the flooding, city staff reported due to several city and community projects, such as the Ralston Central Park Project, aided in protecting neighborhood homes and business from receiving flood damage.
Zenzinger to Senate
Late in the year, Councilmember Rachel Zenzinger left the council after being appointed to the Colorado Senate District 19 seat.
Zenzinger made her interest in the seat known following the departure of former Sen. Evie Hudak, who resigned Nov. 27 in the midst of a potential recall. Zenzinger was sworn into office Dec. 13, leaving her Arvada City Council District 1 seat vacant. Council is now seeking District 1 applicants and will fill the seat in early January.
In July, the city council approved the plans for the redevelopment of the Arvada Plaza, 9611 W. 58th Ave., which will include a full Wal-Mart store. More than 340 residents with the Stop Arvada Walmart opposed the plans, which passed in a 6-1 vote, with former Mayor Pro Tem, Rachel Zenzinger, voting against.
The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) has been working with Industrial Reality Group (IRG) to form a public-private ownership, which will refund $5.8 million to IRG to fund the $9.1 million improvement project.
Development of the site will begin in 2014.
New chamber president
The Arvada Chamber of Commerce welcomed in a new president, Kami Welch, in December after former president Dot Wright stepped down.
Wright worked at the chamber for five years, increasing its membership and retaining businesses through a tough economy. Wright left after accepting a position with the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Colorado (PIIAC) in November. PIIAC is a state trade association that represents more than 2,000 insurance agents throughout the state.
Welch, a mother and wife, began her new role as president, Dec. 1, excited to pick up where Wright left off. Since beginning in December, Welch has jumped into her position.
Arvada Center exec
Early in 2013, the Arvada Center gained a new executive director through one of the first people ever involved in the center, Philip Sneed.
Sneed began his career at the Arvada Center in 1976 and after years of work as a carpenter, producer, and director of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, he returned to the Arvada Center.
Sneed came on to the Arvada Center staff in January and has since helped move the center in a new direction, including heading up the ad hoc task force to gather recommendations for the future of the center.
Arvada Center plan
The Arvada Center, a local and regional hub for the arts in the Denver-Metro area, is a city-run entity, but that is slowly changing.
In 2012, a task force of 19 community members, city staff, council members, center staff and members of the Kellogg Foundation, committed to come together to explore different options for the future of the Arvada Center. In 2013, their recommendations let to the decision to move away from the city and become a separate nonprofit organization.
This new entity would allow the city to stabilize its annual $4 million contribution while giving the Arvada Center more control over its programs and classes.
While not yet approved, the council has decided to move forward with the recommendations. In 2014, the council will take a deeper look into the task force’s recommendations as the task force reaches out to potential new board members and work to compile an operating agreement for the future nonprofit.
In March, the city council passed a moratorium banning the operation of marijuana establishments within Arvada.
The moratorium, which lasts until March 31, 2014, bans the operation of any marijuana establishment or private marijuana club as well as the cultivation and processing of marijuana. The only exception to this moratorium allows residents to cultivate and process marijuana in a private residence, granted they have permission from the residence’s owner.
In July, council also passed an ordinance regarding marijuana use. The first ordinance allows residents, 21 and older, to possess one ounce of marijuana, accessories and products. The ordinance also makes public consumption, containing open marijuana containers in a motor vehicle, and the display or transfer of marijuana, marijuana products or accessories on city-owned property illegal.
In June, Arvada’s municipal judge, George Boyle, retired after serving Arvada for 35 years.
Boyle, who was Arvada’s first full-time judge, oversaw his last case on June 28, and in July, his successor, David Cooke was chosen.
Judge Cooke, an Arvada resident, was sworn in June 17, beginning work July 1. Cooke, who has worked as an attorney for 28 years, has most recently worked as a special litigation prosecutor for the Colorado Attorney General and with civil rights cases at the Denver City Attorney’s office prior to this judgeship.
Judge Cook lives in Arvada with his wife, Kate and two daughters.
Olde Town TOD
The Olde Town Transit Oriented Development project in association with the Gold Line project has spurned controversy throughout 2013.
The project, which affects a 9-acre area between Vance Street and Wadsworth Boulevard to the east and west, north of 55th Street and south of Grandview Avenue, has stirred up emotions between residents in favor of the development and those who wish to preserve the historical aspects and small town feel of the area.
This project will place a 690-spot parking garage in the hillside south of Grandview Avenue and will also provide pedestrian access to the light rail station and Olde Town. Future public meetings with the developer, Trammell Crow Company and the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) are planned for the next phases of the project throughout 2014.
A new home community in west Arvada went under development in early 2013. The community known as Candelas opened at Indiana Street and Candelas Parkway in January with more than 30 homes under development and occupied. Since that time the 1,500 acre area has grown with the addition of homes, 13.5 miles of hiking, biking and horse riding trails, parks and more.
According to developers, the area will continue to grow as more people move to the area and commercial development begins.
The new housing has its critics however, including Arvada resident Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, who has led the charge in reminding the public that Candelas sits next to the Rocky Flats radioactive waste clean-up site.