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Murphy Creek Metro District official accused of expanding lawn to block public access to heavily used alleyway

City of Aurora suing to have alley restored; neighbors are concerned for their safety
Murphy Creek District official accused of expanding lawn to block public access
Posted at 7:47 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 21:48:14-04

AURORA, Colo. — In Aurora's Murphy Creek neighborhood, a large alley connects South Coolidge Circle and East Florida Avenue, providing access to garages and homes and a shortcut for residents and emergency services.

But Contact Denver7 is hearing from upset neighbors after that alley was blocked by a Metro District's board president with an expanded lawn and traffic posts.

As it turns out, the board did not receive permission from the city before making the traffic changes. So now, while the city of Aurora is suing the Murphy Creek Metropolitan District 3, neighbors are worried about their safety.

"I think we're all in favor of slowing down the traffic," said Don Gordon, a neighbor who shared his concerns in front of the new patch of lawn. "But we don't want this here. There are other solutions, reasonable solutions, rather than just closing [the alley] down altogether."

For years now, the homeowner living next to the alley, Matthew West, has been fighting to stop speeding cars that pass by his house.

Neighbors said the city has already removed unapproved speed stops and road blocks that were installed in the past few years.

The city has also installed stop signs and increased traffic patrols.

But in the legal complaint, the City of Aurora states West's purpose with the most recent changes was to expand his lawn and block public access.

In April, the Murphy Creek Metropolitan District 3 board unanimously approved the "landscape enhancement" and paid for it. West is the president of the board, but abstained from the vote.

"They used our district monthly dues to install this," said Joshua Rodriguez, a Murphy Creek resident. "Collectively, the neighborhood, we don't want our money, first, being spent on this. And then, we definitely don't want our money to be used to fight the lawsuit."

The City of Aurora filed a complaint last month, stating that the city owns the easement, did not give permission for changes and wants the alley restored.

For some neighbors, safety is the top concern.

Cory Swain and Twyla Grier said the issue came to light when a relative suffered a stroke in their backyard this month, and GPS sent an ambulance down the now-blocked alley.

"Because the easement is now blocked, they had to back up and reroute," Grier said. "So luckily, our loved one is OK, but it could have been worse. It took them an extra four-and-a-half minutes. Four minutes is important."

Swain agreed — safety should come first.

"I think that that needs to be fixed immediately," Swain said. "We just want safety for the neighborhood and quit making things personal because you've got power."

While West declined an interview request, the board's attorney referred Contact Denver7 to the motion to dismiss the case, which states the land is private property and the new landscape does not interfere with safety or utilities.

Meanwhile, several neighbors said the board appears poised to find a compromise if neighbors get 300 signatures on a petition.

"Nobody wants to keep suing our neighbors but that's what's gonna keep happening," said Michael Clark, a neighbor who hopes the board will restore the alley. "You've got to listen to your neighbors. And I think that if we get those signatures, and there's a compromise, I think that's a good thing."

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