By S. Clayton Moore
Another spring and ideas are springing up in the city like wildflowers. The city’s staff is looking after our water management, roads and image as Centennial grows up a little more every day.
The City of Centennial’s Public Works staff has been busy recently looking at the movement of water around the area. Besides recently recommending studying the formation of a stormwater authority, they have also been examining a major study of water around the Cherry Creek Corridor.
A report prepared late last year by the URS Corporation, titled “Cherry Creek Corridor—Reservoir to Scott Road, Major Drainageway Planning Study Alternative Evaluation Report,” outlined five alternatives for handling drainage in specific areas. In March, the city council authorized staff to begin investigating the last alternative that is called, “Channel Stabilization and Reclamation/Water Quality Enhancement.”
According to a memo by Ben Urbonas, chief of the South Platte and Mater Planning Programs for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District,” alternative five consists of a stream stabilization plan for the mainstem of Cherry Creek that mitigates the impacts of increased runoff, is natural in appearance and function, and preserves and enhances the corridor’s inherent ability to improve water quality. This alternative most closely mirrors the visions, goals and objectives outlined for the planning study, and ranked very high with the public.
Mayor Pye joked with staff member Steve Gardner over the estimated $30 million construction costs for the project.
“It seems like every time you’re here, you cost us more money,” Pye laughed. Gardner, in all seriousness, did indicate that there were alternatives for financing the plan.
“There are opportunities to share costs with the other governments involved here,” Gardener said. “A stormwater authority would also certainly provide a vehicle for financing improvements that are indicated in this and other master plans.”
Public works on the spot
The city’s staff took a moment to respond to a March 3 article in the “Denver Post” titled, “Centennial Budget Ills Scuttle Improvements.” The article made a number of representations about the state of public works in Centennial.
“Most of the individual services in public works are adequately funded,” said City Manager John Pazour. “There are three key areas, though, that are inadequately funded, which are the overlay program, the concrete program and the capital improvements budget. Each of those are areas where there were reductions necessary last year in order to balance the budget.”
“Where the paper started going astray was the implications that these programs have been cut further from where they were last year, and that is not the case,” Pazour continued. “In the public works program, the level of effort in 2003 is at least as high as it was in 2002, so there is not any situation that is worse than it was last year, even though there are significant needs.”
Pye noted that the maintenance side of public works, such as snow removal and repairing potholes, continues to be done as usual. The weaker areas, such as the overlay program, have in fact been under-funded for years and the city has now inherited the responsibility of developing funding sources.
With further economic stability and the support of its citizens, the City of Centennial intends to keep making those improvements and creating a better place to live.
Centennial steady on county payments
The “Denver Post” article also brought up a moot point with its report that Centennial still owes $62,000 for “services, interest and late fees from 2002.” Pazour responded to that report when Centennial citizen Ray Anderson came to the council to ask questions about the report and a possible tax measure.
“Let’s put this item to rest,” Pazour said. “The article mentioned that the city owed $62,000 to the county, which was a surprise to me since we have been current with our payments since September.”
As it turns out, that amount included $22,000 for signal maintenance that had not been billed yet and $27,500 in accrued interest on late payments from last summer, a bill which was received on March 4, a day after the article ran. The remaining amount included $6,200 in signal maintenance for which the city was waiting on further clarification.
“Technically, you could say that the city owed that amount to the county but they hadn’t told us yet,” Pazour explained.
In the meantime, Centennial has kept its payments to the county for services current and is keeping an eye on the coffers. While sales tax revenues for the critical month of December hit nearly the $1 million mark, the city’s staff is maintaining its conservative spending habits through the end of the year.
Emergency system up In Arapahoe County
A new emergency notification system is now on line within the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department. Captain Bruce Williamson updated the city council on the new system at the March 6 council meeting. Installed by Qwest, the system operates in a similar fashion to the “reverse 911” proprietary systems used in other areas.
“They load it and accept responsibility for all the upgrades so it’s not something where we buy it now and it’s obsolete in two years,” Williamson said. “Where this comes in handy is if we have some kind of event or emergency in a given area we can initiate the program and it will automatically call all the numbers in a geographic grid that we specify.”
The system costs the department 23 cents per completed call.
Code of conduct
There have been few controversial meetings between council members recently but the February 20 discussion of the council’s rules for self-governance hit a few sore spots. Becky Lennon, council member, brought forth a proposal that included the means to remove a member by a two-thirds vote of council. While the provision was removed from the resolution, Bob Cole, city attorney, said the move would be legally possible.
Lennon also proposed a new plan for setting the council’s agenda that would put control solely in the hands of the city manager and mayor. Other council members soundly criticized that plan.
However, the mayor and council pledged to continue to focus on the important decisions ahead of them in the future.
City staff needed
Centennial is back in the want ads lately, having lost city clerk Lise Seedroff in February after less than six months of employment. Seedroff is the third city clerk in the city’s history, following elected clerk Claudia Cygnar and appointee Gwen Burton.
To fill the need, the city has immediately posted the part-time position, which will expire on Jan. 12, 2004, when the newly elected city clerk takes office. However, the city has also created a new position in the deputy city clerk, a full-time support position. The city is also currently hiring a contract manager.
New Arapahoe County Library locations
Centennial has two new sources for library materials with the March 1 opening of the new Smoky Hill Library as well as the February opening of the used bookstore at Koelbel Library.Nearly 200 people showed up to the opening of the Koelbel facility, while Smoky Hill, honored with the presence of Colorado’s First Lady Frances Owens, played host to nearly 11,000 patrons.
City Council meetings, at which public comment is heard, are held the first and third Thursdays of each month at 7 p.m. Study sessions are held every Thursday at 6 p.m. The meetings are held at the City Council Chambers at 12503 E. Euclid Drive, Suite 200. For more information about the City of Centennial, please visit [http://www.centennialcolorado.com] or[http://www.c-watch-news.com], the latter being a non-affiliated website developed and maintained by volunteers.