District 3 Report: Public process more than side issue
By City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher
This is in response to the Editor's Desk article of April 12 (“Second thoughts on St. Vrain”). I have a great respect for the editor of this publication; however, in this instance, I believe he has unfairly characterized my involvement in the closing of St. Vrain at 18th Street.
The editor said that "Heimlicher displayed a stronger interest in his pet issue of public process than actually obtaining results." It is true that my biggest concern about the closing of St. Vrain was not what they did; it was what they did not do. The city engineers closed the street based on one resident saying that it should be closed due to drinking parties and numerous wrecks in that area of St. Vrain and 18th Street. What the city engineers should have done is verify what was said and then hold a public process to determine what the majority of citizens wanted, not just one person. By the way, there are no recorded calls to the police about wild drinking parties and there is no record of a single accident at this location ever.
Why am I concerned about the lack of public process? This is not the first evidence of ignoring or not asking the public for input before taking action on the Westside. The following decisions were made without any input from Westside residents - dates for free parking for Christmas were mandated, Bancroft Park was blocked for general public use every Saturday during the summer, new street lights for the Old Colorado City commercial district were denied, horseback riding was stopped at Promontory Point and new houses were approved for construction resulting in destruction of natural rock formations.
The St. Vrain issue is just the latest in this series of Westside citizens not being asked for input. Many of the issues I listed were reversed after citizens called city council to protest. To my knowledge, no other parts of town are experiencing this lack of public process.
The reason I did not recommend reopening St. Vrain at 18th Street before the final decision is made is that it appears that the entire intersection may be on private property and I believe this should be resolved before it is reopened. I have asked the city engineers to try to acquire the land to make this a full intersection as part of the resolution. If I am being criticized for wanting a final resolution rather than a temporary one, then, I proudly admit that this is true. I pledge to address the bigger issue of lack of public process at the same time and make sure the Westside public is heard BEFORE actions are taken by the city going forward.
Councilman Heimlicher represents District 3, which includes much of the Westside.