CenCON

 

 Monthly Reports by Sue Rosser

 
        
        CenCON March 2024 

Highlights from the Monday, January 22 CenCON meeting:

Because of renovation now occurring at the Arapahoe Libraries Administration Building on East Adam Aircraft Circle in Centennial, the monthly CenCON meetings are being held at other places throughout Centennial over the next several months.  The January meeting was held at the Centennial YMCA Center of Generations at The Streets at SouthGlenn.  The February 26 meeting was held at Centennial Public Works (7272 E Eagle Street).  Centennial residents are always welcome to attend. 

CenCON’s VP of Plans, Rhonda Livingston, has scheduled our annual July fieldtrip for Monday evening, July 22 at The Project C.U.R.E. International Headquarters and main distribution center (10377 E Geddes Ave #200).  Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, humanitarian relief organization based in Centennial.  Begun in 1987, this organization is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world, collecting, sorting, and packaging medical supplies and equipment donated by hospitals and manufacturers, to then distribute to hospitals and clinics within developing countries.  Currently, Project C.U.R.E. has donated 2400+ shipping containers of medical supplies to 135 countries worldwide.  Forbes ranks it as one of the 20 Most Efficient Large U.S. Charities.  The WC2 HOA Board is invited to join CenCON on this fieldtrip, which will include a tour of the facility, a video, and possibly also an opportunity to help package supplies.  For much more information and for the many ways that WC2 residents, including families and older children, as well as business and civic groups can volunteer for this organization, visit www.projectcure.org or contact them at info@projectcure.org or 303-792-0729.

The Arapahoe Library District is again holding their second annual seed giveaway program this spring.  Beginning on Monday, March 4 through June 15, residents may pick up free seed packets and planting instructions at any library while supplies last, choosing from a variety of flower, herb, and vegetable seeds, all of which can be grown in Colorado.  Tagawa Gardens will work in partnership with the libraries to host how-to events on gardening and container gardening.  Visit the Arapahoe Libraries website, www.arapahoelibraries.org or call 303-LIBRARY (303-542-7279) for more information on this seed giveaway, and many other programs and events taking place in the coming months.

Centennial has convened a Futures Committee, comprised of city leaders and residents who are studying the ways Centennial is likely to change, and the challenges and opportunities the city will encounter over the next 20-30 years.  Throughout the US and within our community, buying habits are shifting, with more online shopping, so developers are currently reluctant to build more retail and commercial.  Some new restaurants and other businesses are coming in to Centennial, but more foot traffic is needed to support retail.  Shuttered stores and shopping centers are at higher risk for safety issues, crime, and blight.  There continues to be a housing shortage in Centennial. 

Paula Hillman, Program Engagement Representative, and Jason Yin, Esports Coach, both staff members of the Centennial YMCA Center of Generations, gave an overview and tour of this new facility, which opened last May and is located at 6972 S. Vine Street, Suite 366. This is just west of the north side of the now-shuttered Sears department store in The Streets at SouthGlenn (the closest parking place to the Center is the Sears east side parking lot).  The Center is a partnership between the City of Centennial and the YMCA of Metro Denver, bringing together youth ages 12 and up and older adults in a multi-generational space.  Fitness, cooking, art, games, and many other classes and esports (organized, multiplayer video games) are some of the activities offered at the Center.  Some programs have registration and a fee.  For monthly event calendars for both youth and older adults, and for more information about the center, hours, and programs, Google “Centennial YMCA Center of Generations” or call 720-918-6425.

         
                   
        CenCON January 2024

Remembering former Mayor Cathy Noon
CenCON’s Founder and first President (2001-2009) - and so much more

Centennial’s beloved former Mayor Cathy Noon passed away peacefully at home early Monday morning, December 11th, after courageously fighting pancreatic cancer for over 5 ½ years. Cathy’s friendships and influence, both locally and throughout Colorado, and her impact on numerous local and regional programs, initiatives, and improvements will continue to enrich all our lives and serve as her legacy for many years to come.  

 

Cathy’s Celebration of Life will be held at 2 PM on Thursday afternoon, January 18th, in the Embassy Suites Hotel ballroom, 10250 E Costilla Ave in Centennial.   

 

Cathy began volunteering for the Centennial incorporation effort almost immediately after she, her husband Jim, and their two children moved in 1999 to Chapparal, a neighborhood east of Parker Road that would soon become a part of the new city.  Only months after voters said “yes” to incorporation in 2000, Cathy founded and became the first president of CenCON, the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, comprised of neighborhoods located within the city.  Under Cathy’s leadership, CenCON became—and remains—the voice of our neighborhoods, reviewing land development plans and providing homeowner input to the mayor and city council, as well as serving as a two-way conduit for information from law enforcement and Centennial’s special districts. Because of minimal city staffing in the early years, CenCON became the defacto information center for the mayor and first city councils.

 

After running unsuccessfully for a city council seat in our District 3 in November 2005, Cathy continued to grow the membership and influence of CenCON in guiding Centennial.  In November 2007, she was one of 21 citizens elected to Centennial’s Home Rule Charter Commission, which was charged with crafting Centennial’s charter to become a home rule city.  With one member absent at the first commission meeting, Cathy and another commissioner were locked in a 10-10 tie for the commission chairmanship.  When Centennial’s legal counsel determined that a coin toss could legally break the tie, another commissioner volunteered his Alcoholics Anonymous 18-year sobriety coin, and Cathy won the toss.

 

Throughout many long and arduous meetings drafting Centennial’s charter, Cathy’s leadership, centered approach, and willingness to listen to all opinions earned her the respect of virtually all her fellow commissioners, and after she led the successful effort to get the Charter passed in mid-2008, most urged her to run for mayor, promising to campaign on her behalf—and so we did.  In November 2009, Cathy Noon was elected as Centennial’s second mayor with wide voter support, succeeding Randy Pye—becoming one of only a very few Colorado mayors to ever be elected without first having served on city council.  Cathy often laughingly said that if she hadn't won the coin toss and then become known city-wide through her Charter Commission leadership, voters likely would never have elected her as mayor. 

 

Mayor Noon’s numerous accomplishments as mayor have been the subject of many other articles that can be found online, so because of limited newsletter space, they can’t be detailed here. 

 

Upon being term limited in January 2018, Mayor Noon happily passed the gavel to our current (third) mayor, Stephanie Piko, saying that she and Jim were looking forward to years of travel and spending more time with their four grandchildren.  But in a routine annual checkup less than four months later, Cathy was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer.  What followed was a 5 ½ + year battle through Whipple surgery and several grueling rounds of chemo and drug trials.  Throughout these years, she continued to actively hold local and statewide leadership positions, to advocate for senior meal programs and services, and to raise awareness and major funding for pancreatic cancer, also counseling those who later received this same diagnosis.

 

Cathy often said that she kept fighting so she could grow old with Jim and remain a part of the lives of her children and grandchildren as they continued to grow and thrive.  Throughout her last years, she earned heartfelt and widespread respect and love from so many throughout the greater Denver metro area for her continued selfless service and her valiant struggle against this disease.  We CenCON members and so very many others beyond who came to know and love her over these many years keenly miss her now.   She was an extraordinary visionary leader and a loyal friend. 

 
         
                   
        CenCON December 2023 

Highlights from the October 23rd CenCON meeting: 

 

Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, currently comprised of Arapahoe, Douglas, Lincoln, and Elbert Counties, holds quarterly townhall meetings each year, usually one in each of these four counties.  The October CenCON meeting was held in conjunction with the 18th Judicial’s Arapahoe County third quarter meeting, at Koelbel Library.  18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner led the meeting, with special guest Arapahoe County Sheriff, Tyler Brown. The 18th is currently the largest of Colorado’s 22 Judicial Districts, with a total population of just over one million residents.  Arapahoe County is the largest of the four member counties, with nearly 670,000 residents—about 2/3 of the total district population. The 18th employs around 250 personnel, including prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, restitution specialists, diversion counselors, and other professionals.

State lawmakers passed a bill in 2020 to remove Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties from the 18th to form the new 23rd Judicial District, the first time a new district has been created in over 60 years.  Officially, the new 23rd will come into being in January of 2025, after the November 2024 General Election. This split has required the 18th to break out tens of thousands of cases, unraveling a district that has been together since 1960.  It is a huge staffing and personnel challenge to work through this transition with as little impact as possible to all residents of the four counties.

Following introductory remarks, Mr. Kellner spent the next hour detailing current issues and a number of cases that have come before the 18th Judicial in the third quarter.  These have involved theft, child exploitation, murder, assault, MS-13 (El Salvadoran violent gang) murders, and much more.  You can view the entire meeting and Mr. Kellner’s description of these cases by going to: https://da18.org/media/newsletter.  Once there, tap on the October newsletter link, and then on the townhall meeting link, in the information below John Kellner’s photo.  This meeting contains a wealth of information about all aspects of the 18th Judicial District and is well worth watching. 

The following information was provided in the CenCON meeting that followed the 18th Judicial presentation:

 

South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) EMS Division Chief Jens Pietrzk shared these updates:

  • For the first six months of 2023, SMFR responded to just under 5,000 911 calls in Centennial.  The majority (around 75%) of the calls were Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls—heart attacks, difficulty breathing, falls, household accidents, etc. Actual fire calls in Centennial have decreased this year.
  • SMFR receives around 600 cardiac arrest calls annually—up to 2-3 per day.  Dispatch gives CPR instruction to the caller over the phone, resulting in successfully restarting hearts 46% of the time before the EMS team arrives.
  • All medical calls to SMFR are increasing by around 10% each year, due to increases in population, traffic accidents, and average age within the district. The highest concentration of calls comes from senior facilities.
  • The old Station #15, east of the Dry Creek/University intersection, has been demolished, and a larger, state of the art fire station is now being constructed on that site.  For more info, visit www.southmetro.org and search for Station #15. A website link should soon be added there that will show construction updates every 15 minutes.

District 4 Centennial City Council member Don Sheehan gave this report:

  • Veronica Gates, Centennial’s Homeless Outreach Liaison, is continuing to reach out to unhoused individuals and families in Centennial, providing them with resources and services.  Ms. Gates has also been working with the business community and visiting several hotels, apartment buildings, and other establishments near her interactions with the unhoused, all to mitigate potential issues. 
  • The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has formally accepted Centennial’s application to opt-in to Proposition 123.  The application includes a goal to increase the number of affordable housing units through new construction or conversion of 108 affordable housing units by the end of 2026.  DOLA’s acceptance enables Centennial and private organizations to apply for a range of grant programs operated by DOLA and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA).  City staff will continue to monitor these grant programs.
  • Arapahoe Road Bridge over Big Dry Creek Reconstruction – Through November, crews have been continuing stream stabilization under the bridge, and preparing and paving the South Trail and sidewalks through the construction zone.  If the weather cooperates, construction should be completed by the end of 2023.
         
                   
        CenCON November 2023 

The Monday evening, September 25 CenCON meeting was a Centennial City Council candidate forum for those running for one of the two seats in each of the four city council districts, in the Tuesday, November 7 General Election.  For more info, go to www.centennialco.gov>home and then scroll down and click on Hot Topics: 2023 Election Information.

In the Centennial City Council election, District One (western Centennial) Councilmember Candace Moon is term limited.  Therefore, two new candidates are running: Amy Tharp and Andrew Spaulding.  District Two has two candidates: incumbent Christine Sweetland and challenger Rick Rome.  Our District Three (includes areas both east and west of I-25) has two candidates: incumbent Mayor Pro tem Richard (Rik) Holt and challenger Valdan Vandemark.  In District 4 (northeastern Centennial), incumbent Don Sheehan is running unopposed.  This article will concentrate on the highlights of the questions asked and the answers given by the two candidates who are on our WC2 ballots.

 

Mayor pro tem Holt, 57, a 22-year resident of Foxridge, spoke in introductory remarks about his extensive volunteering history in the Foxridge neighborhood, being on the Foxridge Board of Directors, and running numerous charitable and other neighborhood events with his wife Julie.  Since being elected to the Centennial City Council in November 2019, he has served on the Open Space Advisory Board, as the liaison to South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and the chair of the Fiberworks Commission (responsible for the 50 miles of fiber in Centennial).  With a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, he has had a 20+ year career as a program and project manager/analyst in the computer industry.  Rik and Julie have been married for 30 years, raising their now-grown son and daughter in Foxridge and now enjoying their 2-year-old grandson.

 

Vandemark, 32, grew up in Boulder and moved to Centennial in 2018. In his introductory remarks, he emphasized that he runs a business and is responsible for thousands of details, and no one on the city council thinks about business the way he does.

 

Priorities: 

Holt: Public safety is his #1 priority—to support our law enforcement firefighters, and first responders, continuing to give them the tools to keep Centennial residents and property safe and protected; important also are fiscal responsibility and keeping Centennial lean, and continuing to deal with potholes, snowplowing, land use, and housing issues. 

Vandemark: Public safety and affordable housing are the two priorities he mentioned. Rising crime in his neighborhood and lack of follow-up by law enforcement have been of great concern to him; also important is finding ways to have affordable housing in Centennial.

Taxpayer-funded subsidies:  Holt: No.  Vandemark: Would have to do more research.

Responsibilities of a City Council member:

Holt: Primary responsibilities include being a connector—connecting constituents with services, various Centennial departments, advocating for solutions to problems, quickly becoming informed on a variety of issues. 

Vandemark: The biggest thing is listening to constituents and then doing research to get the facts to make informed decisions.

 

Safe injection sites, possibly mandated at the state level:

Holt: Hard no. The intention may be good, people want to help those addicted to drugs, but it’s not the way to do it.  It’s not right for Centennial, and we need the local authority to say no. 

Vandemark: Not for it being state mandated; if we are going to have them, this should be done at a local level. But where in Centennial would we put a site?  So, leaning more toward no.

 

Closing statements

Holt: Public service is noble, and if you have the time and the inclination to do it, you should.  I have served for four years, and I love serving and representing our community.  I’ve put my heart and soul into this.  Experience matters.  It took about three years for me to find my voice; I ask you to let me have that voice to serve you for another four years. 

Vandemark: Six months ago, I didn’t know I was going to be running for city council.  In this time since, my world has turned upside down. It has been wonderful, challenging, and scary.  I want to be of service to Centennial.  I will work with anyone to find a commonsense solution.  I will be available 24/7 to answer constituent calls if elected.
   

         
                   
        CenCON October 2023  

Highlights from the August 28 CenCON meeting:

Several months ago, longtime CenCON President Gerry Cummins retired, and former Centennial District 4 City Councilmember C. J. Whalen was elected as the new president.  Since then, C. J. has made several changes, including working on enhanced communication with Centennial City Manager Matt Sturgeon on projects, programs, and challenges facing the city and residents. They also worked on implementing a Zoom option for the monthly meetings.  CenCON reps are still encouraged to attend in person, but they, and neighborhood residents now have this Zoom option, with the Zoom link being shared through each neighborhood representative.  Please call or text me at 720-201-9358 if you’d like to listen to any future meetings.  To be candid, though, the quality of the Zoom audio and visual of these meetings is still a work in progress.

Aurora Ogg, 18th Judicial District’s Director of Community Engagement included this update:

The 18th Judicial Quarterly Meeting will be held with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) on Monday evening, October 23 from 6 to 7 p.m. At Koelbel Library.  District Attorney John Kellner and Sheriff Tyler Brown will discuss public safety.  Possible topics will include courtroom updates, current statistics from the DA’s Office, updated legislation regarding motor vehicle theft, and other topics of current interest. There will be time for questions at the end of the meeting and both officials will remain afterward to answer additional questions.

Rik Holt, one of our two Centennial City Council members, shared these future events and gave this update:

  • Sip in Centennial – 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at Centennial Center Park (13050 E Peakview Ave).  This is a new event, combining two community favorites: Brew-N-Que and Whiskey Warmer.  Food trucks, tastings, activities for all ages, and a live Irish band in the amphitheater will all be included.  The event is free and open to all ages, but guests must be 21+ and purchase tickets to take part in alcohol tastings.
  • Holiday Celebration – 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 2 at Centennial Center Park.  Items featured include youth choirs, Santa, family friendly activities, free cookies, cocoa, and cider.
  • Solar panels have been installed in the City of Centennial parking lot and they also serve as shade structures.
  • Centennial is the first municipality in the state to seriously tackle pickleball noise, imposing a moratorium on the building of new pickleball courts within the city, while the issue is studied.  As you may know, much has occurred on this topic since this CenCON meeting.  By the time you read this, the Centennial City Council will have decided what is/is not allowed regarding pickleball courts and play throughout the city.
  • Arapahoe Road bridge construction occurring immediately east of the Arapahoe/University intersection continues, with ongoing stream stabilization, bridge work, and utility relocation in partnership with Denver Water continues.  Traffic continues to travel in new lane configurations to accommodate construction and motorists are encouraged to use other routes around this construction, especially during rush hour. 

Ryan Thompson, Centennial’s Neighborhood Services Manager, shared this information on Centennial’s Community Grant Program for 2024:

This grant program was implemented in 2021 to increase communication among neighbors, build neighborhood identity and civic pride, improve neighborhood well-being and safety, and provide opportunities to bring neighbors together.  Two types of grants are available to residents, HOAs, and communities within the city:

  1. Neighborhood Engagement Grants—Up to $500 for block parties, movie nights, social gatherings, and other similar events.  Funds may not be used to purchase alcohol or controlled substances.  No more than one grant will be awarded per event. 
  2. Large Community Improvement Grants—There are eight larger grants for up to $10,000 each, two for each of Centennial’s four city council districts. This grant funding can include common area tree plantings, landscaping, community art projects, and other larger neighborhood improvements.  Training and more information for these larger grants will occur in mid-February, with applicants then contacting Ryan Thompson in February and March to “flesh out” their grant ideas.  Applications must then be submitted from early March to mid-April. In mid-April, the grant review team will determine the awardees. In early May, applicants will be notified of the status of their application.  Projects awarded the grant funding will then need to be completed by November 1.  For more information and specific dates, go to www.centennialco.gov/home and then search for ‘community grant program.’
         
                   
        CenCON September 2023  

Highlights from the annual CenCON July 24th field trip:

Traditionally, the July CenCON meeting is a field trip to a facility that serves Centennial, and often our larger south metro community, as well.  In July, with our host, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ken McKlem, we toured the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility (HRLETF), 6001 Ron King Trail, located east of Highway 85, Louviers and Sterling Ranch, in Douglas County.  Situated on 117 acres, this facility is the premier training ground for law enforcement professionals—deputy sheriffs and police officers-- throughout the Denver metro area, as well as for students and instructors from across the US and abroad.  The HRLETF includes eight firearms ranges, a driving track, and a 20,000 sq. ft. tactical training building with classrooms and extensive training rooms for all training mentioned below.

All who wish to become Colorado law enforcement professionals must first be hired by a member law enforcement agency and then successfully complete the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-approved Basic Academy.  This facility provides this and all other training to all who are employed by member law enforcement agencies in Colorado, including the Arapahoe and Douglas County Sheriff’s Offices. 

The POST Basic Training Academy required by member agencies for all newly hired law enforcement recruits is a 21-week course held at this facility.  Two academy classes are held annually, beginning in January and July, and most classes are composed of around 30 recruits from several law enforcement agencies.  The course includes extensive training on firearms, arrest control tactics, law enforcement ethics and anti-bias policing, the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS), report writing, CPR, day and night driving, crime scene documentation, tactical casualty care, building searches, sobriety testing, courtroom testimony, sexual assault assessment, and drugs—and much more.  And always, much testing throughout the 21 weeks.

The Colorado POST-regulated Refresher Academy is a two-week course designed for any former Colorado certified peace office whose POST certification has expired, or for POST certified officers from other states who seek POST certification in Colorado to be employed in our state. Skills training areas in this refresher course include training and testing on firearms, arrest control, and law enforcement driving.  The next Refresher Academy begins in early October.

In addition, frequent training of law enforcement professionals and other groups occur at this facility throughout their careers. During our evening tour, a ROTC class was training in one of the classrooms.

For much more information on this impressive facility and the training that occurs here, visit www.hrletf.org.  You can also view more details about the weekly training of the current POST Basic Training Academy recruits by searching “Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility” on Facebook.

It’s reassuring to learn that our law enforcement agency, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, requires this and much more training for all those who serve us.

         
                   
        CenCON August 2023 

Meeting Highlights from the June 26th CenCON meeting:

Aurora Ogg, 18th Judicial Director of Community Engagement shared this news:

  • Are you interested in exploring the roles of various members of the District Attorney’s Office in different parts of the criminal justice system—and more?  Sign up by Friday, August 25 for the Fall 2023 Citizen’s Academy, a free 7-week course being held on Thursdays, 6 - 9 p.m. from September 14 to October 26, at the Arapahoe County DA’s Office (6450 S Revere Pkwy in Centennial). Questions? Email JSorrells@DA18.state.co.us.  For more info and to download the application, go to www.DA18.org/Community Outreach/Citizens Academy.  Past Academy attendees give it stellar reviews for being interesting and highly informative!
  • In 2012, the 18th Judicial became a national leader when it began using Pella, a specially trained dog to sit with children on the witness stand when their testimony was needed. Often in abuse cases, providing them with a sense of safety and comfort.  Before retiring in 2021, Pella provided comfort to children in over 450 cases.  A black lab named Fancy has now completed training and is carrying on Pella’s work. 
  • The 18th Judicial District has been the largest of Colorado’s 22 Districts, serving over one million residents in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties.  In 2020 a Colorado law was passed to remove Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties from the 18th, placing them in the newly created 23rd Judicial District. The split will be finalized in January 2025 after a new DA is elected in each district in November 2024.  The 18th will then be comprised solely of Arapahoe County, with nearly 700,000 residents at the time of this change.

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) Capt. Ken McKlem shared this update:

  • For your safety, opt into emergency notification alerts by googling Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and then searching for Emergency Notification Alerts.  Then follow the steps to learn more and opt in.
  • The 17th Annual Centennial Under the Stars is Saturday, August 12 from 5 - 9 p.m. at Centennial Center Park (13050 E Peakview Ave). Enjoy live music, local vendors, food trucks, family friendly activities, and the announcement of the winning artists whose designs will wrap traffic boxes in three Centennial neighborhoods. Two of these boxes are on the north side of Willow Creek, along E Dry Creek Rd.
  • The Safety in Faith Seminar will be held on Thursday, August 21, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Highpoint Church in Aurora (6450 S Southlands Pkwy).  Law enforcement and other professionals will discuss ways to spot, protect from, and de-escalate potentially harmful/violent incidents in houses of worship. The seminar is free to all, but participants must register.  For more information, Google “Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Faith Seminar” and register on the Eventbrite website.

Arapahoe County Commissioners Carrie Warren-Gully (District 1) and Jessica Campbell-Swanston (our District 2):

  • $25 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding the county received is helping vulnerable populations and homelessness. Of this total, $10M will go toward innovative affordable housing projects.
  • The commissioners are studying how to stabilize the county’s funding. Arapahoe County is projected to be the most populous Colorado county by 2030, and the need for all services is growing. The county has been strategically using funds but has a $500M backlog of infrastructure projects. Protests and increasing crime have put demands on ASCO for more policing, requiring additional funding. One option is to ask voters to approve a new county sales tax.  Another is to ask voters to remove the revenue cap of TABOR, commonly called “de-Brucing”—setting aside TABOR revenue limits.  51 of Colorado’s 64 counties have de-Bruced, including tax-averse Douglas and El Paso Counties. Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties must de-Bruce to maintain levels of all services and revive postponed infrastructure needs.
  • The deadline for the five Arapahoe County Commissioners to decide whether to move forward with these options is early August.  Voters would then make the final decision in the November 7, 2023 General Election.  
Two excellent articles summarizing Arapahoe County’s fiscal challenges can be found by Googling:
  1. the Denver Post article “For two Colorado counties that haven’t “de-Bruced,” the fiscal alarm is growing louder” 
  2. the Littleton Independent article “Arapahoe County Commissioners highlight budget concerns during annual State of the County address.”
         
                   
        CenCON July 2023

Meeting Highlights from the May 22 CenCON meeting:

Kristin Eckmann, Deputy Communications Director for South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) shared these updates:

  • Following a late May “farewell open house” at Station #15 (located just east of the Varsity Inn on Dry Creek Rd), the vacant station will be used for fire training exercises in June and July, before being demolished. In June, smoke billowing from the station with fire trucks nearby has been part of these exercises.
  • Once demolished, a new and larger firehouse will be built on this site, capable of housing modern-day fire trucks that are larger in all dimensions.  The additional space will have separate washing facilities for firefighters to immediately wash potentially harmful, cancer-causing chemicals from their bodies and equipment after fighting a fire and before entering the main station area, and it will also better accommodate female and medic personnel.  The new station will cost $8M and should be in service next fall.

From Arapahoe Library District Holly Whelan, Community Relations & Strategic Events Manager:

  • Interested in writing and publishing your own novel, biography, or other literary project?  The Library District offers a variety of resources for writers to learn, research, create, format, and submit an original work for publishing.  To learn more, visit www.arapahoelibraries.org/writers-resources/ or call 303-LIBRARY.
  • The libraries have various summer programs, including art projects, puzzles, and games that will change every two weeks.  They will also host in-person and virtual events for babies, children, and teens.  For more info on summer programs, visit www.arapahoelibraries.org and click on “Events” along the top bar.

District 3 Centennial City Councilmember Mike Sutherland (Mike and Rik Holt are our two council members) spoke:

  • Centennial’s ongoing Housing Study now has a 75% draft on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) available at  www.centennialhousing.konveio.com/adus  An ADU or “granny flat” is a secondary house or apartment that shares the building lot of a larger, primary, single family home. An ADU can be attached to the principal dwelling unit or located above a garage or in the backyard on the same property.  Our WC2 covenants state that our residential lots are restricted to “private single family residential purposes.”  A legal opinion from our HOA legal counsel would help clarify whether ADUs of any type will be permitted in WC2.
  • Find more info on the Housing Study and Policy Development Project at www.centennial.co.gov/housing 
  • For Centennial’s summer social events, visit www.centennialco.gov/residents/get-involved/community-events

South Suburban Parks & Recreation District (SSPRD) information update:

  • During the May 2 board election, Ken Lucas was re-elected and Pam Eller was elected, each to a four-year term.
  • Very sadly, sitting board member, Dave Lawful, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep on May 10.
  • SSPRD’s six new outdoor lighted pickleball courts being constructed at the Lone Tree Rec Center should be completed by the end of June.  For info on district construction projects, visit www.gameplan.ssprd.org

Updates occurring since the May 22 CenCON meeting:

  • Following an application process implemented to fill Dave Lawful’s vacant board seat, on June 14 the four remaining South Suburban board members unanimously selected applicant Keith Gardner of Centennial to fill that seat.  Keith is an excellent addition to the board, having served as District 2 Centennial City Council member (2008-2016) and Littleton Fire Protection District board member from 2012 until LFPD merged with South Metro Fire in 2018, when he was the LFPD board president.  Keith will serve the remainder of Dave’s term, and then he must run/win in the May of 2025 Board of Directors Election to continue his board service.
  • SSPRD and Highlands Ranch Metro District are partnering on the Pickleball Complex Project, to build 12-24 lighted pickleball courts on the Mission Viejo vacant property, west of Broadway between W County Line Rd and C-470.  The proposed project also includes a pro shop, office space, flush restrooms, shade pavilions with picnic tables, and spectator seating.  With final board approval and funding, construction may occur in 2024.
         
                   
        CenCON June 2023

Meeting Highlights from the April 24 CenCON meeting:
  • If you have concerns about vehicles speeding, cut-through traffic, and safety on your street, Centennial has a traffic management plan, created to find solutions for neighborhood traffic issues and mitigation requests. Search the city’s website, www.centennialco.gov for ‘Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan.’
  • On a related topic, Centennial has reduced the residential speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, and they’ll consider changing neighborhood speed limit signs to reflect this lowered limit.  Call 303-325-8000 to begin this process.

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) Capt. Ken McKlem shared this update:

  • On Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Mile High Hook & Ladder Club will host the 37th Annual Parade and Muster at Arapahoe Community College (ACC). The parade begins with antique and modern fire rescue apparatuses from the Club and South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR), at the Littleton Blvd/Bannock St. intersection and it proceeds west on Littleton Blvd through downtown Littleton, ending at ACC.  After the parade, the muster at ACC will feature these fire/rescue vehicles, firefighters and other first responders, rescue demonstrations, fire truck rides, junior firefighter games, and face painting, with food trucks from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.   Visit www.milehighhookandladder.org and the Club’s Facebook page for more information. Also, consider a future visit to the Denver Firefighters Museum, located at 1326 Tremont Street.
  • Two new ASCO therapy puppies, Otis and Bear, have joined three others, Zeke, Rex, and Riley, as school therapy dogs.  Riley and Bear are working in the Cherry Creek Schools, making students feel safe and searching (via scent) for guns and explosives. To learn much more, Google ‘Denver7 Arapahoe County therapy puppies.’ 

Highlights from District 4 Centennial City Council member Don Sheehan’s update:

  • The new Centennial YMCA Center of Generations, the senior/youth center discussed in last month’s CenCON article, will have a ribbon cutting and tours on Wednesday, June 7 from 4 to 6 p.m.  Festivities will include music, games, local vendors, and remarks by Mayor Stephanie Piko.  The address is 6972 S. Vine St. Suite 366, in the Streets at SouthGlenn. The closest parking area is on the east side of the now-vacant Sears store, between Sears and University Blvd.  After parking, take the diagonal pathway along the Sears’ north-side.  The Center is in the next building, just beyond the Sears’ north entrance.
  • Centennial’s Public Works Director, Jeff Dankenbring, an expert at finding grant funding, has gotten the city almost $43 million from various funds for city roadways, intersections, sidewalks, and other improvements. 

Melanie Ward, Manager of Development Foresight & Infrastructure Readiness, gave a Housing Study Update:

Centennial is continuing to work on three affordable housing strategies to become policy and they continue to generate differing opinions among CenCON neighborhood representatives and beyond: 1) Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also called “granny flats,” 2) Inclusionary Zoning, and 3) Land Banking.  The city has conducted public outreach via city website links for residents to comment on these strategies, but few residents seem to know about this outreach.  To learn more, go to www.centennialco.gov and follow these links: government>city projects and initiatives> housing cost and availability in Centennial>policy drafts. Then search that page for current details.

Not in the CenCON meeting, but of interest:

  • The two decommissioned SMFR ambulances sent to Ukraine are serving with military units along the front lines, providing care to wounded soldiers and civilians. SMFR doesn’t know their exact locations.
  • The two new, huge, lime-green Oshkosh Striker 1500 airport aircraft firefighting vehicles, now named Red 1 and 2, were dedicated in a late-April Centennial Airport ceremony and are now at SMFR Stations #35 and #44, adjacent to the airport. They’re a ‘must-see’ at either station for all fire truck enthusiasts!  Google ‘Oshkosh Striker 1500’.
  • The Arapahoe Road Bridge Reconstruction project narrowing traffic just east of University has been delayed by having to relocate a water main, causing traffic mitigation there to extend into September.
  • 64 of the 81 trees lining Littleton’s Main Street are honey locust trees that now have a fungal disease, causing limbs to break and fall and risking pedestrian safety and property damage. Beginning in early June, 49 of these trees will be entirely removed, and only the trunks of 15 will remain, for later artists’ sculpting. The fungus produces spores that are spread by wind, so honey locust trees throughout our south metro area are also at risk.
         
                   
        CenCON May 2023 

Meeting Highlights from the March 27 CenCON meeting:

Kristin Eckmann, Deputy Communications Director for South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) shared these updates:
  • SMFR serves 550,000 residents across 300 square miles in the south metro area.  In 2022, SMFR fielded over 50,000 calls, of which 64% (32,000) were EMS/ambulance calls.  Although Centennial residents comprise just under 20% of the SMFR population, last year 29.5% of these EMS calls (9,433) came from our city. 
  • The public is invited to the Station #15 open house on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 1 p.m.  The tear-down and rebuilding of #15, located just east of the University/Dry Creek intersection, will now not begin until early July.  A grand opening will be held when the new station opens here next fall.
  • 37 recruits have been hired and are training now in the first of two 17-week fire academies being held this year.  SMFR is currently hiring paramedic/fire fighters, with a starting salary of $74,000/year.
  • In equal partnership, SMFR and Centennial Airport have purchased two new, large-capacity aircraft rescue and firefighting trucks that will be housed at Stations #35 and #44, which border the airport’s north and south boundaries.  These will be used to fight aircraft fires, crashes, or other emergencies at the airport and in surrounding areas, carrying up to 1,500 gallons of water and many gallons of fire-retardant foam concentrate.  
  • SMFR is seeing fires caused by electric vehicle (EV) lithium batteries, with the fires being highly combustible, quickly heating up to as much as 2,500 degrees, especially in either a collision or while charging.  Because these fires often require tens of thousands of gallons of water to extinguish, crews are now being trained with special large extinguishing blankets that can be placed on burning vehicles and surrounding areas to help prevent the fire from spreading before finally burning out.

One of our two District 3 Centennial City Council representatives, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Holt, gave an update:

  • This fall, The Centennial Arts & Cultural Foundation (CACF) will be decoratively wrapping 18 additional traffic box cabinets throughout Centennial, with three of these located along the south side of Dry Creek, on the exterior of our new perimeter wall at Yosemite, Willow Way, and Hunters Hill Drive.  Volunteer judges and local artists must sign up by May 1 and May 14, respectively, to participate in the contest that the CACF is holding to finalize the 18 box wrap designs. Visit www.centennial-art.org for more info and to sign up to create or judge box wrap designs. The artists of winning entries will each receive $2,000.
  • The Centennial Center Park Expansion project should be completed in June. The park is located adjacent to the city offices east of I-25. For a map and more info, go to www.centennialco.gov and search for this project.
  • The new 6,345 sq ft Centennial YMCA Center of Generations, located in the Streets at SouthGlenn, will be open to the public in early May, with a grand opening in early June. The center’s goal is to build community by bringing together youth and older adults in a multi-generational space that offers programming for all ages, from competitive video gaming skills (called esports) for 11 to 18-year-olds, to fitness, cooking classes, and other offerings for all ages. See www.denverymca.org/centennial-cog.

Jacob Kremin, Deputy DA, 18th Judicial District, gave additional information on human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, building on his presentation in January.  This continues to be a growing problem throughout Colorado, with the Internet being one of the main marketplaces for human trafficking. Some of the determining factors for youth falling into being trafficked and exploited include mistaking predators for friends on the Internet, school truancy, delinquency, family dysfunction, running away from home, and substance abuse and dependency.  The 18th has a dedicated prosecutor, victim/witness specialist, and a special investigator all assigned to this issue, but they are increasingly overwhelmed by its magnitude.

         
                   
        CenCON April 2023

Meeting Highlights from the February 27 CenCON meeting:

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO) Capt. Ken McKlem, Patrol Special Operations, gave an update, including

  • Most major crime in Centennial continues to be theft from motor vehicles and auto theft.  Always keep vehicles locked and remove all valuables, and if possible, vehicle(s) should be parked in your garage overnight.
  • The ASCO Annual Open House, held at the Sheriff’s Office (13101 E Broncos Pkwy, Centennial), will take place on Saturday morning, June 3. It will include a pancake breakfast, facility tours, displays, and activities for all ages.

Centennial District 1 City Council member Robin Carnes gave the city update, focusing on Centennial’s Housing Study that was implemented in 2022 to explore housing costs and availability in the city, to understand and identify all city housing issues, define needs, and identify priorities and potential solutions.  This study, funded in part by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, is a major undertaking that involves community input and collaboration among many stakeholders, and it will likely take at least a year to complete.  The CenCON representatives presented at the February meeting, who represent many of Centennial’s varied neighborhoods, expressed spirited and differing opinions on several aspects of this topic.  For much more information about this study and the community input thus far, visit www.centennialco.gov/home and then click on these topic links:  Government>City Projects and Initiatives> Housing Cost and Availability in Centennial.  Note: In the Public Comment Feedback section, WC2 is in City Council District 3.

The main meeting topic was a two-part presentation on Contractor Fraud.  The first was given by Senior Deputy DA Steve Fauver, Director of the Consumer Crime Unit, and Jamie Sorrells, Director of Consumer Fraud Protection, both from the 18th Judicial District.  Included was an overview of contractor fraud, common complaints against contractors, concerns that may increase the risk of fraud, and homeowner due diligence on minimizing the risk of contractor fraud.  For a comprehensive information sheet, go to www.da18.org and then search for Homeowner Contractor Fraud. Once on that page, scroll halfway down (past the color mugshots) to that title, and then click on the blue link for the two-sided PDF information sheet.  Questions or concerns?  The 18th Judicial District will consider prosecuting cases of contractor fraud if the homeowner has detailed documentation about all aspects of the project.  For more information, contact Consumer Fraud Protection, 18th Judicial District at consumer@da18.state.co.us or the hotline: 720-874-8547.

The second presentation was given by Joseph Montoya, Centennial’s Chief Building Official, who emphasized that contractors working in Centennial must be licensed and insured.  Their licensing can be through another municipality, but they must first check in with Centennial’s Building Department.  The Top 10 Guidelines For Hiring a Contractor are:  1) Don’t rush into any project; 2) Get at least 2-3 ‘apples to apples’ detailed bids;  3) Hire a licensed contractor willing to obtain permits—never be talked into pulling the permit (homeowners permit) in your name;  4) Check the contractor’s insurance and bonding; some trades have only national licenses;  5) Get references from 2-3 previous customers and ask to see photos of their work;  6) Get everything in writing, including construction documents and blueprints.  A submitted plan is a legal document that includes scale, types of materials, and specifications, and detailed scope of work; 7) Keep a job file to include all emails, texts, and documents; document all change orders, discussing their costs; 8) Understand your right to cancel within a specified time period; 9) Don’t pay more than a minimal amount up front!  Coordinate payments with inspection approvals; 10) Delays will occur—maintain communication with your contractor.

Contact Centennial’s Building Department at buildingdivision@Centennialco.gov or ask for the department using the City’s main number: 303-325-8000 if you have questions about what permit(s) are needed for any project or for any other related issues.

Not in the CenCON meeting, but of interest:

  • On March 21, the Centennial City Council approved an ordinance establishing a six-month moratorium on the construction of any outdoor pickleball courts located within 500 feet of current residences, or any vacant land zoned residential.  Because Centennial currently has no regulations in place specific to pickleball, the moratorium allows the city to proactively study the noise impacts of this fast-growing sport before issuing any future construction permits.
  • Foxridge’s recently installed Trex perimeter fence is experiencing unacceptable discoloration issues, so Trex will provide replacement materials for 45% of the entire fence.  Split Rail Fence Co., the original fence contractor, will donate half the labor costs to tear down/rebuild the fence, and the Foxridge GID will pay the other half—around $100,000.
  • There is no better way to welcome spring than to walk, bike, or drive the most beautiful collection of flowering crabapple trees in the entire Denver metro area, found right next door in Littleton.  Every year from the end of April through early May, nearly 7,000 mature crabapple trees bursting in color, line the streets and grace the yards throughout the city, especially along the seven-mile-long Littleton Crabapple Route. To learn much more and to obtain the route map, google Crabapple Route, Littleton, CO. Happy spring!