Monthly Reports by Lori Bell

        CenCON March 2021

John Kellner, the newly elected District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, introduced himself to CenCon and provided an update on crime and community safety in our District. The 18th Judicial District is comprised of Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Due to COVID, jury trials and other substantive case activities in the 18th Judicial District were stayed for much of 2020 and in large part for 2021. As a result, there is a backlog of 10,000 criminal trials in the District, and it is expected to take into 2022 to catch up on the criminal trials. Mr. Kellner advised that misdemeanor and felony case filings have dropped approximately 20%; however, crime rates have increased significantly. The following increases are not unique to the 18th Judicial District and are seen across the State: weapon cases are up 25%; homicides 30%; robberies 30%; burglaries 17% and aggravated motor vehicle thefts 32%. The increase in crime rates is attributable, in part, to COVID as well as a decrease in proactive policing (in large part due to SB217 and officers’ fear of being sued), policies to keep criminal offenders out of jails and prisons due to COVID, and offenders not being sentenced to prison time. Mr. Kellner expressed concern regarding SB62 that would codify temporary policy changes put in place due to COVID and encouraged citizen input. 
        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.