Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison warmed up his State of the City address a few days early, meeting with a small group of city residents Aug. 21 at Legacy Ridge Golf Course to give them insight on city …
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Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison warmed up his State of the City address a few days early, meeting with a small group of city residents Aug. 21 at Legacy Ridge Golf Course to give them insight on city affairs.
Among them was former City Councilor Bruce Baker, a Republican, who ran for mayor against Republican Atchison in 2017 and is currently seeking the State Representative seat for District 35 against Democrat and sitting City Councilor Shannon Bird.
Americans for Prosperity, working in conjunction with the Grassroots Leadership Academy, sponsored the meet-up with Atchison for residents. They are planning a series of similar meet-ups with other elected officials in the coming months.
Shari Shiffer-Krieger, field director for Americans for Prosperity, said the organization hopes to have meet-ups available to the public with the county clerk in October and state legislators in November.
“We try to educate people on what’s going on in the world. One thing we noticed is with local politics, even though that’s what influences us the most, we rarely get people involved,” said Shiffer-Krieger.
Shiffer-Krieger said attendees at the Aug. 21 meet-up with Atchison had an interesting discussion between both people who supported the mayor and those who disagreed with him. People talked about what they felt, asked questions and made comments. She said she hopes for a better turnout at the next event.
Chief among the city projects Atchison discussed were Westminster Downtown redevelopment, high school training programs for apprenticeships and affordable, workforce housing projects.
Westminster Downtown redevelopment
Atchison clarified for event attendees that Westminster Downtown, the massive multi-year development at 88th and Sheridan Boulevard, would not be building a new mall.
JC Penny’s renewed their lease for 30 years, but that would be the only remaining store of its kind from the original mall.
If everything goes according to schedule, he said, the plaza being built on the north side of JC Penny’s will break ground this coming November. But Atchison said it will take between 15 and 20 years to completely finish building the entire 105-acre site where the new Westminster Downtown will eventually stand.
But Baker disagreed with how Atchison described many of the developments in Westminster’s city projects.
“We ought to be inclusive of the details and challenges our city faces,” Baker said. “Every project downtown is subsidized by taxpayer money. Most people don’t understand there are huge taxpayer subsidies in those places. When you only tell half the story, you’re lying to them.”
High school training programs
Atchison said the city is working with the Adams 12 Five Star Schools and Westminster Public Schools to create a program where students can be trained in the unique craft or trade of any given small business.
The city hopes to implement the same program in Jeffco Public Schools, but hasn’t gotten students in Jeffco to apply for the program yet.
The city is partnering with CSU Global to award college credit to students for the work they do during their apprenticeships.
Atchison said 600 affordable housing units in Westminster are currently either in negotiation, being set aside, planned or being built currently in the city. Two of the main projects under construction right now are residential housing that have about 160 total units dedicated to workforce housing for residents with a fixed income.
Baker also objected to the deals made on these residential housing developments with allocated affordable housing units.
According to Baker, under the contracts signed for these affordable housing projects, the property owners can set the affordable housing units at market rate after 30 years- no longer making them accessible to residents with a fixed income.
On the RTD front, Atchison said he has no concrete information on the open date for RTD’s Gold Line but it could potentially be 2020.
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