Monthly Reports by Lori Bell

        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.

        CenCON February 2018  

Mark Gotto, City Manager for Ting, and Ting Construction Managers, Mike Garcia and Ryan Johnson, provided a construction update regarding Ting.  Years ago, the City of Centennial funded a $5 million fiber ring around the City with the goal of anchoring institutions such as the Library, Sheriff, Fire Departments and other districts and to provide a foundation for a public/private partnership and lease to move fiber into homes.  Ting is the first and, to date, only company that has entered into a lease with the City and has selected Willow Creek 1, 2, 3, Hunters Hill and Walnut Hills as its first beneficiaries of the lease.  Ting advised that its service will increase the value of homes, retain and attract businesses, and reduce costs and increase access to services.

Currently, Ting has three drills operating in the five neighborhoods.  Delays have arisen due to ice, frozen ground and snow removal impeding on Ting’s right of way, which is denoted by a two-foot wide double stripe of paint on the ground.  Notably, Ting will not dig past the right of way on residential property unless the resident signed up for Ting.  During construction, Ting is making efforts to keep traffic flow moving by working between 8am and 4pm, when residents are away at work and school.   

Ting uses “cabinets” to house the fiber for the neighborhood.  There will be one large cabinet situated near existing utility boxes and smaller cabinets at the beginning/end of streets, depending on the network design.  Small “handholes,” also referred to as “flower boxes,” which look like a sprinkler system box with a green cover and contain conduits, will be placed in front yards, within the City’s right of way.  100% of homes will have these boxes, regardless of whether the resident signed up for Ting, in order to accommodate all who currently and later choose to have Ting services.  Between one week and 72 hours prior to installing flower boxes in yards, residents will receive fliers advising of impending work and HOA’s and management companies will be notified, as well.

Fiber from these boxes will then be run into homes via a six-inch trench through the yard and to the side of the house.  Ting plans to have personnel contact homeowners in advance of work to discuss their preferred location for the fiber to enter the house.  Ting advised that the fiber is not very pliable, so Ting undertakes efforts to hide the fiber along the house.
        CenCON January 2018 

Arapahoe Libraries are “fine free” as of January 16, 2018.  The Library District explained that it does not operate or rely on fines in creating its budget, and the Library does not want people to avoid the library because they owe a five dollar fine.  According to the Library, most people return books and other materials.  However, if a patron does not return materials 30 days after the due date, the patron will be billed for the replacement cost of the material.

The Fire Districts reported on recent merger developments.  As of January 1, 2018, South Metro and Cunningham Departments merged.  The merger made sense, as the two departments worked closely together over past years. 

Now, talks are underway regarding a merger between South Metro and Littleton Fire District, which is generally the area west of Holly to Columbine High School.  Littleton Fire District serves approximately 80,000 residents.  Two years ago, South Metro expressed an interest in unifying the departments.  The Departments looked at numbers, service levels, and long-term stability.  An example of a fairly common problem involves 911 calls – the station servicing the location of the call may be located nine minutes away, but another station outside the service area may be located across the street.  Also, the ability to perform inspections is almost nonexistent with the Littleton Fire District, due to financial constraints.  Unlike South Metro, Littleton does not have the benefit of the significant Tech Center tax base to support its operations. 

Littleton is now on board and ready to move forward with efforts to merge with South Metro.  The issue of the merger, along with a mil levy increase to 9.25, will be on the ballot for Littleton voters in May.  The goal is to pass everything and start the merger and unification process in 2019.  If the mil levy does not pass, the measures will be placed on the November 2019 ballot.  Further, the Highlands Ranch Fire District, which contracts with Littleton for fire services, will look to merging with South Metro in the next few years.  Once the mergers are complete, the South Metro Fire District will stretch from Parker to Chatfield.

South Metro proudly reported that it has achieved an ISO rating of one, which is the highest rating by the Insurance Services Organization.  The rating is important, as property owners may see a reduction in their insurance premiums.