Fred Allen: Community service with a smile

Column by Bill Christopher
Posted 4/2/18

Last month, we lost one of the most “gentle gentlemen” I have ever had the pleasure to work with and know. He always had a positive outlook on life, was always considerate of the other person and …

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Fred Allen: Community service with a smile

Posted

Last month, we lost one of the most “gentle gentlemen” I have ever had the pleasure to work with and know. He always had a positive outlook on life, was always considerate of the other person and was quick with a joke to lighten your load.

Fred Allen loved the political scene and serving his community. He and his wife Suzanne have always been on top of Adams County politics and knew the who’s who.

I always marveled at the number of people they knew and where they stood on political issues.

A new sheriff comes to town

In 1973, I had the good fortune to meet Fred Allen who was a candidate for the Westminster City Council. He joined two other newbies to the city political scene, George Hovorka and Bert Johnson, in running for city council seats.

They were anchored by incumbent and seasoned veteran Vi June to round out the foursome. Times were unsettled then with controversial City Manager Ned Phye having left the position the year before and City Council firing his replacement, Robert Boos, after less than eight months on the job.

The foursome in question were all elected and a collective “new sheriff was in town.”

Longest serving councilmember

Fred went on to serve the city with much dedication for 26 years on the city council with two of those years serving as mayor from November, 1981 to November, 1983. Back then, the City Council selected the mayor from within the council members for a two-year term.

In fact, he is the longest serving city council member since Westminster voters adopted the home rule charter in 1958 and governed under the council-manager form of local government.

Not only was he a popular elected official, but he served most of his council years prior to when term limits came into play.

During Fred’s tenure, various notable events happened. He saw the Westminster Mall built, watched as it became the No.1 mall in the North Metro Region and finally saw its demise in the late 1990’s.

Rapid growth in the city was at play during most of his tenure, which brought the city’s growth management plan into being along with many public facilities being built.

A significant intergovernmental agreement with Hyland Hills Parks and Recreation District took place in the mid-1980’s which produced the third nine holes golf course at the Hyland Hills Golf Complex as well as giving all Westminster residents in-district status for all of their facilities including Water World. I could go on, but space is limited.

The gentle gentleman

Fred, the person, was down to earth, friendly, quite personable, knowledgeable with his savings and loan and appraisal business experience, a dedicated family man and Westminster’s No. 1 ambassador. Never one to boast or take center stage, he was truly a team player of the council and city team.

Fred, we miss you, but will always remember your gentle gentlemanly approach to life.

Proposal for housing 1,000 homeless people

The next chapter in the saga involving 59 acres of land at the Federal Center in Lakewood located at 6th Avenue and Union Street has been unveiled.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has been pursuing ownership and development of the surplus federal land to provide housing for up to 1,000 homeless people. The proposal would include temporary structures such as trailers, geodesic dome shelters or large insulated tent structures in the early years before permanent structures are built. The proposed $120 million project had been submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in early March for review and possible approval.

Just this past week, HHS Department officials announced it rejected the plan. The homeless coalition immediately announced that it would appeal the decision and potentially take the decision to court.

Right decision to reject concentration of homeless

Lakewood residents had mounted a petition drive to secure signatures in opposition to the planned housing plan. Over 2,100 signatures had been gathered and submitted to voice people’s concerns.

The number one argument against the Coalition’s proposal was the scale and magnitude of the number of homeless people to be concentrated in one place. The concept of clustering that many low-income persons in one common area goes against planning concepts which have been learned from experience over the years.

High density low or no income family dwellings in the 1960’s and 1970’s in such cities as St. Louis, New York City and Detroit proved to not be the best configuration.

Ultimately, these high-rise buildings were demolished. Today, the best practice is to disperse low income families among dwellers who pay at least 60 percent of market rate to full rate for their apartments.

Plus, from a financial feasibility standpoint, the more diverse approach works better. The HHS Department was correct to turn down this proposal. Perhaps the Coalition should try a smaller scale project with a diversification of tenants’ rental rate using only a portion of the land.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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