DENVER (KDVR) — Denver voters will decide in November whether they want to approve up to $450 million in infrastructure projects.
On Monday evening, Denver City Council referred the proposed bond package to the November ballot.
“This bond package invests in our economic recovery by investing in our people, and I thank those Council members who voted in favor of referring this opportunity to voters,” Mayor Michael Hancock stated in a press release. “These projects will help sustain our economic recovery by supporting more than 7,500 good-paying jobs from construction and hundreds more jobs well into the future, creating new community assets to support year-round events and local businesses, improve mobility, and strengthen our cultural institutions, libraries and parks and rec facilities.”
Package to ‘focus on equity and economic opportunity,’ but coalition pushes back
According to the city, the package includes more than 80 projects “with a focus on equity and economic opportunity.”
If approved, a major portion of the spending would fund a new National Western Center campus. That proposal is sparking controversy.
Not all council members are on board with the spending. Leading the charge against the new complex is Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca and the Globeville Elyria Swansea Coalition Organizing for Health and Housing Justice.
The group is casting doubt on an economic impact that would benefit community members and warns there is not a focus on equity.
They also argue the mayor has not taken the time to truly envision a development that would have community appeal and community ownership. They highlighted the history of depriving oppressed people land in those two neighborhoods near the downtown core.
Hancock pushed back on the criticism. He said the rationale for this bond package is to stimulate the economy, create jobs and support local businesses for years to come. He said, in a written response, that includes expanding opportunities and equity in the neighborhoods around the National Western complex.
What will be on the ballot?
The package will be divided on the ballot into five bond measures:
- “$190 million for the National Western Center campus for a new mid-sized arena to support year-round events and year-round jobs, and to renovate the historic 1909 Building for use as a public market to provide food access in a neighborhood lacking access to fresh foods and creating space for neighborhood businesses
- “$104 million to create new and preserve beloved community assets including making critical [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility improvements to ensure community assets are accessible to all residents, building two new libraries and expanding an existing library in un-served and under-served neighborhoods of Westwood, Globeville and Hampden, and creating a new youth empowerment center
- “$63 million for 46 projects to address transportation safety in neighborhoods, address six miles of sidewalk gaps, design and construct the first part of the 5280 trail, and create 16 miles of new bike lanes
- “$54 million to improve and build new playgrounds, athletic fields, a public pool and public restrooms
- “$39 million for housing and sheltering facilities serving people experiencing homelessness”
The general obligation bonds — known as GO Bonds — are secured by dedicated property tax mills, and the proposal “is expected to remain within the existing property tax rate for GO Bonds,” the city said.