DENVER – Denver City Council voted this week to advance a ballot question that will allow voters to decide on a $450 million General Obligation Bond package proposed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
According to the mayor’s office, the bond package will be used to complete 80 different projects in neighborhoods across Denver.
Nearly $190 million will be used to build a new arena at the National Western Center.
The bond would also include $38 million to improve facilities for people experiencing homelessness.
Dozens of transportation projects worth about $60 million will be used to fill in sidewalk gaps and create 16 miles of bike lanes.
“It includes some things that respond pretty directly to what Denver residents say they want and need and there are some things that seem disconnected from the community’s priorities, in particular the massive investment in the National Western Center at this time,” said Jill Locantore, the executive director of the Denver Streets Partnership.
The Denver Post reports four city council members shared Locantore’s concerns and voted against funding for the new arena at the National Western Center, questioning its benefits for those living nearby.
Locantore said instead of investing in something new, she would like to use more of the bond money to improve existing transportation infrastructure.
“The need is so great for transportation options other than driving. If you think about it, we’ve spent decades investing millions and millions of dollars supporting driving as a mode of transportation and, meanwhile, spent virtually nothing to support biking, walking, and transit. So we need to really refocus our city's resources,” Locantore said.
Locantore said the city should focus on Colfax Avenue.
“Tens of thousands of people travel on the corridor every day, not just to downtown, but to all the destinations up and down that corridor,” Locantore said. “Right now, Colfax is designed like a highway to move as many cars as fast as possible and there just really is not good accommodations for people who are using transit, who are walking, who are biking. With GO bond funding we can fulfill the vision for Bus Rapid Transit, where we reclaim some of that street space for dedicated busways where buses can go faster, more frequently, and carry more people efficiently down that corridor. “
Locantore said as voters prepare to vote in November, they should keep in mind that a bond is a debt that the city owes. She encourages voters to support projects that would create the biggest impact.