Year of new beginnings, old battles
Presented here are the Lakewood Sentinel’s top 10 stories of 2013.
W Rail Line opens
After years of work and waiting, the W Rail Line began running through Denver, Lakewood and Golden on April 26.
RTD estimated that there were 35,000 passenger trips on each of the days during the opening weekend, which featured celebrations and parties at almost every stop along the line.
In the ensuing months, some riders of buses voiced dissatisfaction with changes in the routes, which caused delays and route changes.
Some of the most affected lines include the 16X, 17X, 87X and 100X. The 116X, 87X and 100X lines returned in slightly modified forms. Lines like the 2X, 5X and 6X will not return.
Secondary connections are now the biggest aspect of the line to be developed, and this is the area that businesses and the city must step up in.
For example, Belmar launched a free shuttle, which travels between the shopping center and station, with two stops in Belmar.
During an Oct. 18 meeting at the Wadsworth Station, residents voiced their opinions about sidewalks needing improvement, lack of trail connections at certain points and places where there are bike and pedestrian conflicts.
Improvements are already planned along Wadsworth, thanks to a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation. In several phases there is going to be a widening of Wadsworth, and improvement of the sidewalks along it, which are currently subpar and not ADA accessible. There will also be the removal of some drainage pipe crossings.
Lakewood High School wins Katy Perry concert
Lakewood High School students were showcased to a national audience thanks to a video for pop-star Katy Perry’s first single off her latest album, “Roar.”
The students, headed by student body president Courtney Coddington and videographer Gavin Rudy, put together a lip-dub video to the song and entered it in a contest held by “Good Morning America.”
The high school won the contest, beating out thousands of entries from across the country. Perry and judges picked the winning entry, based on creativity, on-air appeal, “wow” factor, originality and feasibility of a live performance at the entrant’s qualified school, according to ABC.
On Oct. 25, more than 2,700 Lakewood High School students and staff arrived at the school at 4 a.m. to attend the Perry’s concert - it was also the singer’s birthday.
Perry was escorted into the gym by school football players to the screams and cheers of students. She and her women dancers hit the stage wearing cheerleader outfits emblazoned “Tigers.” Her male dancers and musicians wore Lakewood Tiger football jerseys.
“That you did that video in one shot was just so cool,” Perry told the cheering crowd. “The unification of everyone coming together and roaring for me was great.”
City council elections
Lakewood’s city council said goodbye to Ward 3 councilwoman Sue King and Ward 5 councilwoman Diana Wilson, and welcomed Shakti to Ward 3 and Karen Harrison to Ward 5.
Ward 1 councilwoman Ramey Johnson and Ward 2 councilman Scott Koop captured a second term, both running unopposed.
In Ward 4 incumbent David Wiechman fended off former Colorado Senate President Pro-tem Betty Boyd to hold on to his seat.
The battle for Ward 4 was an expensive one for both candidates. Wiechman raised just shy of $20,000 during the campaign, and Boyd raised around $24,000.
For Wiechman, the biggest issue facing the city is the implementation of Amendment 64. He is firmly against allowing any legal marijuana to be sold in the city.
He said that his motto is ‘enough is enough’ because the city already allows medical marijuana, and he believes that is as much as the city needs.
Shakti defeated Dan Smith in her race, and Karrison beat out Michael “Gunner” Gunstanson in her ward.
The new councilmembers were sworn in on Nov. 25.
Group homes becomes hot button issue
During the latter part of the year, the issue of group homes dominated city council meetings and discussions, thanks in part to a new home being built on South Newland Street.
Several group homes for seniors and people with disabilities are being built in the city, but since some are being built in neighborhoods and residential areas, residents are contending that changes to the city’s zoning ordinance made in April are denying homeowners input on the process.
The city has maintained that the changes made are only to comply with the Federally mandated Fair Housing Act.
During a Dec. 2 study session, city council decided to move forward on several changes, including: requiring notification from the city for group homes with 9 to 12 people for residents and registered neighborhood organizations near the home; and offering neighborhoods the option of having a city-hosted meeting.
These options will go to second reading — and public comment — on Jan. 13.
2090 Wright Street
The fate of the property at 2090 Wright St. is in the hands of Jefferson County District Court Judge Margie Enquist, after she dismissed the Jefferson County School District, City of Lakewood and 2090 Wright St. Coalition’s applications for summary judgment on ownership.
Jeffco Schools filed a quiet title on the land in 2012 after the rezoning of the property was withdrawn.
After dismissing the summary judgment applications, Enquist heard from all parties involved and concluded the trial on Nov. 7.
She will issue a written ruling when she has come to a decision.
Bear Creek Lake Flooding
Lakewood was mostly spared the flooding that many other municipalities saw during the September flooding, but one place that was affected in a big way was Bear Creek Lake Park.
According to Drew Sprafke, regional parks supervisor, the waters in the reservoir came up 50 vertical feet — from 5,558 to around 5,610 feet — and the creek itself overflowed its banks.
The initial cost estimate is around $380,000 in repairs, but that number is in flux as more information about the damage is determined.
The high water levels in Bear Creek Lake Park demonstrate that Bear Creek Dam and Reservoir did exactly what they were built to do: safely capture floodwaters raging down Bear Creek to protect populated areas downstream, according to information provided by the city.
Water could rise a total of 109 feet before filling the reservoir and starting to drain into the spillway.
The city tapped into the large number of regular visitors to the park to help them clean things up.
There have been several volunteer clean-up efforts at locations like the Skunk Hollow picnic area and other places around the park, and these will continue throughout the year.
Action Center makes progress on capital campaign
The Action Center’s capital campaign to expand its services and space has raised $2,414,456 — 57.5 percent of its $4.2 million goal.
The $4.2 million will go to the purchase of the Cottonwood office complex, which is next to the center’s current location, and renovation of the new space.
The campaign has been in the works since 2007, with a goal of helping people more effectively and helping them on the way to self-sufficiency.
Phase one of the three-phase campaign involves the costs of renovating the new space and paying back the loans necessary to purchase the property.
The aim is to get the final design work done for the new space in the new several months, and start construction in late winter-early spring of 2014.
Rocky Mountain Deaf School groundbreaking
Rocky Mountain Deaf School finally broke ground on a site for its new school on Nov. 9, after many years of searching for a site.
The school will be built right next to D’Evelyn Junior-Senior High School, with construction wrapping up around fall of 2014.
The original plan was for the school to be built on a 10-acre piece of land at 2090 Wright St., but due to neighborhood reactions and the potential cost of putting the issue to a vote, Jeffco Schools pulled the application to build there in September of 2012. The school was able to purchase the land near D’Evelyn, and deaf students from all over the state finally had a home.
“This will be our sacred land forever,” said Cliff Moers, founder of the school, during the groundbreaking. “We work to help deaf children become whole people, and we now have a whole home for them.”
Lakewood moves forward on comprehensive plan update
Lakewood started its program — Lakewood 2025: Moving Forward Together — for updating the city’s comprehensive plan and creating its first sustainability plan in September and held meetings through November on a variety of subjects for residents to consider.
Items like transit changes and options, sustainability, economic development and quality of life were all topics of discussion and speakers attended three of the four meetings to give their expert opinions on changes the city can make.
Resident input was the big goal of the series, and input from all the meetings will be taken and documented, and some time in early 2014, task forces will be formed to look at the different ideas and how to best move forward on an update to the comprehensive plan and creating a sustainability plan.
The Edge Theatre sets up new location
After two years of wowing audiences with its boundary-pushing works, The Edge Theatre partnered with the 40 West Arts District and moved to a new location at 1560 Teller St.
Mayor Bob Murphy, executive director of the Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District Bill Marino, 40 West Arts and The Edge Theatre boards, and friends of theater all gathered on March 15 to celebrate the grand reopening and regional premiere of David Mamet’s “Race.”
“We’ve gone through some crazy times, thinking should we close, should we move,”s aid Rick Yaconis, executive producer and artistic director of The Edge said. “In the end we decided that we’d rather say I can’t believe we did that, instead of we should have done that.”
“From both the 40 West and Colfax Business Improvement District’s perspective, The Edge is a real community asset,” said Bill Marino, executive director of 40 West and the business improvement district. “We’re very excited for what it means for us and The Edge.”
The theater is already hard at work on its 2014 season.