Historic Westminster deserves some TLC

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 8/7/19

Have you been a party to any discussions lately with residents or business owners or leasees in the southern “historic” part of Westminster? Well, I can tell you there is a segment of folks there …

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Historic Westminster deserves some TLC


Have you been a party to any discussions lately with residents or business owners or leasees in the southern “historic” part of Westminster?

Well, I can tell you there is a segment of folks there who are not happy with the Westminster city government. They feel ignored or forgotten on a variety of issues. The issues include too much affordable housing being targeted in their area for one thing. The pending two duplexes which would be ownership units located immediately north of 72nd Avenue on the east side of Bradburn Boulevard is on residents’ minds.

The ill-fated apartment development that was proposed at the Harris Park shopping center at 72nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard is still a concern knowing that the City had tried to spearhead apartment development there.

Weeds are another issue. On that issue, I have been seeing lots of weeds including on city rights-of-way and numerous fairly high visible privately owned sites not just in “historic” Westminster that are in violation of City Code.

“Bright spot” is encouraging

Better than me listing various concerns, have you driven the streets in “historic” commercial Westminster lately? I have and I have a growing concern with the lack of attention and care from both the city as well as property owners.

Stil, there is a “bright spot” at 74th Avenue along Federal Boulevard. It is great to see the reinvestment by the private sector at this location with the new Starbucks as well as a 7-11 Store. A new Kum & Go gasoline and convenience store is under construction north of McDonalds’s. Plus, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have both remodeled and updated their restaurants.

Still, there are a number of negative visual factors in the heart of “historic” Westminster’s commercial area which need some TLC.

Major East/West thoroughfare warrants attention

Over time, the landscape materials in the concrete planting boxes on both sides of 72nd Avenue between Meade and Eliot Streets have gone to pot. They are either bare dirt or have little vegetation or consist of overgrown evergreen shrubs while some have mature trees. Where are the flowers and additional trees to brighten up the appearance and inject some color in the sea of asphalt? These planting areas have been in existence for more than 25 years and warrant attention by the City of Westminster.

With the new branding which the city recently unveiled, how about some bright color eye-catching signs announcing “Historic Westminster?” Shouldn’t the city be proud of this designation and announce it to the motoring public?

Finally, some property owners should be cited for junk cars, deteriorating buildings and weeds. I encourage the city council and top administrators to drive the length of 72nd Avenue in Westminster and the adjacent area to see if you agree with my observations. After all, 72nd Avenue is a major thoroughfare through Westminster!!

Democrat candidates evolve as “Progressives” Vs: “Moderates”

Being the political news junkie that I am, I had to watch last Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential debate. In my humble opinion, the candidates are revealing more and more how divided their party is between the so-called “progressives” versus the “moderates.”

Former Maryland U.S. Representative John Delaney summed up the debate on health care quite succinctly. He stated “We have a choice: we can go down the road that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren want to take us, which is bad policies like Medicare for All, free everything (like college) and make impossible promises. It will turn off independent voters and get Trump re-elected.”

Delaney hit the nail on the head in my opinion. The Democrats need to be careful on how far left to go with their policy platform. While they will garner the most liberal or “progressive” voters, they will lose a significant amount of us unaffiliated voters. While I certainly don’t want four more years of Mr. Trump, it would be difficult to support either of the two New England senators. We will see what (last) Wednesday night’s debate with Joe Biden, Michael Benet et al produces.

Should state government revenues be “de-Bruced”?

You may have read or heard about the statewide ballot issue which Colorado voters will decide this November. It has to do with a key provision of TABOR (Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights).

Democrats in the state legislature engineered what will be ballot issue CC. It calls for eliminating the spending cap which TABOR requires using a specific formula. In other words, any revenue received in a fiscal year OVER the expenditure cap is mandated to be refunded to the taxpayers. Now that sounds straight forward, doesn’t it?

However, some years when there was extra revenue the state legislature would move revenues around to get the state General Fund revenues under the cap. Thus, there were no tax refunds.

Basically, the Democrats are asking state voters to “de-Bruce” General Fund revenues so that the state can spend the additional revenue without any tax refunds in the picture. The excess revenue would be allocated equally to transportation, K-12 education and higher education.

“De-Brucing” is like what voters have done in most Colorado municipalities and school districts over the years. Proponents of the ballot issue say that you, the taxpaying voters, did it for local governments already. So why not do it for the state government?

Democrats take an “all or nothing” approach

As we know, Colorado voters have been stingy with approving increased state taxes for highways, K-12 and higher education. Is it realistic to assume these same voters will give approval to forego any tax refunds? For the state fiscal year which ended June 30th, an estimated $575 million is above the cap according to the Colorado Legislative Council. Governor Polis’ administration estimated it closer to $300 million.

Either way, we are talking about a lot of money. If the state economy had not been so robust, perhaps voters would pass the “de-Brucing.” However, the larger the sum of money to be refunded to the taxpayers, the tougher I think it is to pass ballot CC. We shall see in November.

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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