Monthly Reports by Lori Bell

        CenCON February 2020

The 2020 Census is upon us and begins in March 2020.  Adam Bickford, with the State Demography Office that is part of the Department of Local Affairs, provided a presentation regarding the Census.  The Department was first authorized to provide population estimates in 1969.  The Census provides a wealth of information about the population.

Colorado grows at about twice the rate of the nation.  There are more people moving into the state than out, but the majority of the population increase is due to births.  The 11 counties from El Paso up to the northern border have the most growth and the northwest and southeast corners, where the economy is driven by mining and farming, have a decreasing population.

Between 2000 and 2018, the average growth rate in Centennial has been slower than Arapahoe County and Colorado as a whole. Almost no one moves out of Centennial, but if they do, generally it is to other parts of Arapahoe County and occasionally other parts of the State.  Statewide, 95% of the population does not move year to year. Looking at age patterns, Centennial currently has a bubble of residents in the 30s, who are first time homeowners and at the second job of their careers.  Thus, in 30 to 40 years there will be a bubble of retirees.  People in Centennial are older than people in Arapahoe County.  Not many people live and work in Centennial; most are employed outside of Centennial.  Likewise, people who live in Denver tend to work elsewhere and often commute to Centennial. 

Participation in the Census is the cornerstone of a representative democracy. Our country is founded on the idea that all are created equal; thus, everyone needs to be counted to ensure equality in representation.  How we are represented is determined by the Census.  There are 880 billion dollars allocated across the states based on Census counts.  Programs impacted by the Census include Head Start, Section 8 housing, educational grants, emergency food and shelter, roads, school lunches, senior services and an entire range of federal services. Allocation of funding for the next ten years is estimated at $2,300 per person per year.   Colorado is not a net donor state, which means that we do not get back everything we give in taxes.  This is yet another reason to make certain everyone is counted.  The data from the Census ensures that Colorado receives fair representation in Congress and that there is accurate data for use by the states for redistricting.

The official Count Day of the Census day is April 1, 2020, which is a snapshot in time of where people are living on that day.  The census contains ten questions and takes ten minutes to complete. The Census does not contain questions regarding citizenship, occupation or income.  The Census form is available in 13 languages.  The Census is a numeration of housing units as of April 1. Thus, if a student is living in a dorm on April 1, even if his/her permanent address is elsewhere, they will be counted by the school.  If a student is living off campus, the student will document their off-campus residence for the Census.  Prisons or other institutions will be counted by the institution. Military personnel will be counted by the military at base – if they reside on base.  There will be a point in time count, where the homeless will be counted at a set time and place, for example, at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or park.   If someone who is homeless wants to complete a form, they can do so online and put the address they choose. 

In March, everyone will receive a form explaining how to complete the Census, which can be done on line, via phone or in person.  If a form is not returned, a Census Enumerator will visit to obtain a completed form.  If you have questions, feel free to contact Mr. Bickford at Adam.Bickford@state.co.us.
        CenCON May 2019

Mayor Stephanie Piko reported on happenings in the City of Centennial. The City was awarded a grant to install electric cable charging stations at City Hall and the Eagle Street Facility. These will be pay stations, where you are charged by amount used and for the amount of time your car is at the charging station. These stations will enable the City to evaluate the need for the stations and how best to implement them throughout the City. The City initiated a new pilot program called “Spark Centennial,” aimed at reinvigorating older shopping malls and shopping complexes. The goal is to provide the community with resources to create temporary one-of-a-kind pop-up events at the older shopping centers in order to draw potential clientele to the malls. Anyone with an innovative idea is encouraged to submit an application in order to receive up to a $4,000 grant to make the pop-up idea a reality. Examples of pop-up places include art shows, beer gardens and temporary parks. The Centennial Citizen newspaper will soon launch into the entire City of Centennial.  All homes will have the opportunity to subscribe to the publication for $20 per year. All of the City’s legal notices will be publicized in the Citizen.  Additionally, all citizens, regardless of whether they subscribe to the Citizen, will receive a monthly Centennial Citizen magazine. Lastly, Mayor Piko proudly announced that all high schools in the City of Centennial were named in the top 25 high schools in the state and all STEM schools were included in the top ten of STEM schools in the State.

South Suburban Parks and Recreation reported on the status of the new recreation complex to be located west of Davidson’s Liquor, along East County Line Road. The disc golf course is now closed as construction is slated to begin in May. The dog park will be also be closing on May 31 in order to install an access road to the future recreation complex. Parks and Rec is working with the metro districts to relocate the disc golf and dog park. A private groundbreaking will be held on May 9, 2019 to kick off the construction of the recreation complex. Parks and Rec confirmed that the complex will have three sheets of ice!
        CenCON January 2019

Susanna Fry Jones, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach for the Highline Canal Conservancy, reported on the status of plans for the future of the Highline Canal. The Canal was hand dug in 1883 and acquired by Denver Water in 1924. In 1970 the Canal was opened to the public for recreation. The Canal comprises 800 acres, connects 8,000 acres of open space, runs through 11 jurisdictions and is in range of 24 schools and 350,000 residents. Today there are 24,000 trees, 199 bird species, 28 mammal species and 15 reptile species. The Canal is outliving its historic use as 60-80% of water has been diverted elsewhere; thus, the Conservancy is working to repurpose the Canal as a recreational and ecological open space. Phase 1 of the Conservancy’s plan occurred between May 2016 and January 2017 and focused on public outreach to harvest the community’s vision for the canal. 

Phase 2, occurring between 2018 and 2019 involves implementation of a master plan.  The four components to the plan include: 1)  a welcoming refuge to promote human use, health and safety, while celebrating nature; 2) managing the landscape, enhancing the tree canopy, and sustaining animal life to improve ecological and environmental health, thereby creating a thriving natural corridor; 3) creating an innovative and stainable infrastructure to preserve and adapt the Canal for storm water while celebrating the heritage and historical importance along the canal; and 4) enhancing regional access to the canal and establishing stewardship and monitoring of the trail.

The Conservancy identified six tools for implementing the transformational goals of the master plan including: 1) focusing on the opportunity areas of Tower Road, Sand Creek, Aurora City Center, Wellshire, Broadway “triple threat,” (where the canal trail intersects Broadway in three locations), Plum Creek and the origin of the trail; 2) implementing landscape design guidelines to vary the character of the canal; 3) improving and implementing a new consistent family of informative and way-finding signage; 4) storm water modeling and management; 5) maintaining and expanding character zones along the canal while developing parking, nature play and gathering places; and 6) maintaining regional corroboration.  Once the plan is finalized it will be available at https://highlinecanal.org.

        CenCON October 2018 

The city is working on linking up all traffic signals in Centennial.  Currently, 48% are connected by a fiber network. This enables the traffic department to observe traffic in real time and adjust traffic signals remotely to meet demands.  Additionally, the cameras allow real time monitoring by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and South Metro Fire District in the event of an accident, to determine the condition of intersections and to deploy necessary equipment.  Greenwood Village, Centennial and Lone Tree are working together to address traffic concerns and are focusing on and testing three major corridors: Yosemite from County Line to Greenwood Village; Dry Creek corridor from Havana to Broadway; and Chester Street between County Line and Alton.  All three corridors have 100% of the cameras installed and 25% to 33% of fibers are connected to the signals.  

Matt Crane, County Clerk, reported on voting trends and the upcoming 2018 elections.  Arapahoe County is a purple county in a purple state:  38% of voters are Unaffiliated, 33% are Democrat, 27% are Republican, and the remaining 2% make up minority party affiliations.  Over recent years, voters affiliating with the Democrat party increased 12%, Republican affiliation dropped 3%, Unaffiliated increased 22%, and minor parties increased 56%.  Recent years have shown the following voter turnout:  73% in 2010, 93% in 2012 (Obama ran for second term), 68% in 2014 (no gubernatorial candidate); and 83% in 2016 (Trump presidential run).  Turnout for 2018 is unknown, but it is estimated to be slightly higher than 2014 levels.

The 2018 ballot will be long.  There are three Congressional seats up for election, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Board of Education, CU Regent at Large, State House races, Arapahoe County Assessor, Clerk, two Commissioners, Coroner, Sheriff and Treasurer, 13 statewide ballot questions, as well as three in the city, four in the school districts and five in other districts.

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on October 15, and early voting begins October 22 in 12 locations.  Arapahoe County is the only county in the State that will open up 100% of its polling centers the Saturday before Election Day.  There will be 40 ballot boxes throughout the city, 26 off which will be open 24 hours per day.  Postage for mail in ballots will cost $.71.  Mr. Clark shared interesting numbers regarding voting at polling centers versus mail in ballots.  Last year, 92,713 people voted via mail in ballots, which costs the county $3.96 for each ballot.  There were 535 people who voted at polling centers, which costs the city $84 per vote.  Early polling centers average one person per hour.

Lastly, Colorado’s voting system is not connected to the Internet.  This includes tablets, ballot scanners and tabulation computers.   All voting generates paper ballots, which leave a cast vote record that can be audited.  Colorado’s SCORE database is web-based but is among the most secure in the nation.

        CenCON May 2018 

Arapahoe Library Director, Holly Whelan, provided insight regarding the Arapahoe Library District’s Strategic Plan for 2018 and explained the five components that will shape the work of the Library District.

Advisory Services addresses the expansion of the quality and quantity of personalized recommendation services to patrons.  Whether patrons come to the library in person or virtually, the Library will connect people to what they may not have known that they were interested in.  Simply put, the goal is to “put the right book in the right hands at the right time.”  Most of library staff are not librarians, so the library district will focus on appropriate training to increase skills. 

A current, but new service at the library is the “Hold Shelf Surprise.” Patrons frequently order items which are placed on the hold shelf for them to retrieve.  The Hold Shelf Surprise takes this up a notch.  Patrons will complete a survey to indicate reading preferences, genres and what they like and don’t like.  Librarians will then choose a selection of books and put them on the Hold Shelf and patrons will pick up their surprise.  This program is proving to be hugely successful.

Champion for Lifelong Learning encompasses the Library’s goal of providing lifelong educational opportunities, support, materials and training to assist patrons with literacy skills, including cultural literacy and technological literacy.

Community Engagement and Listening represents a new goal from a strategic point of view.  This entails finding ways to engage in the community outside of the library walls and thinking beyond what people think they need or want from the library.  The Library is exploring ways it can facilitate conversations on hot topics – at best, be a partner, and at a minimum provide meeting spaces. 

Inclusivity.  In the spirit of respecting the diverse community, the Library is committed to offering an inclusive and welcoming environment to all members of the community that reflects diverse backgrounds and interests of the community.  The Library District has contracted with Dr. Nita Mosby to further the Library’s inclusivity goals and has started conversations regarding equity and equality to ensure that everyone feels welcome.

Library Spaces are being looked at with the goal of further adapting library spaces to accommodate community gatherings, areas to collaborate and places to create. The Library will also look outside of its walls to determine ways to bring the library experience to the community and create spaces for everyone to coexist.