NewsLocal News


Denver voters to decide on 5 bond measures that promise major upgrades to city facilities

Colorado Denver voting ballot box drop absentee mail vote
Posted at 8:53 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 22:53:25-04

DENVER — Along with weighing in on three statewide ballot initiatives, Denver voters will be asked in November to decide whether they want to approve of a package of bonding measures to make major improvements to the city.

Altogether, the bond package asks voters to sign off on $450 million in improvements.

MORE: Election 2021: Breaking down the three Colorado statewide ballot issues

Ballot Question 2A

The first bond question Denver voters will be asked to approve is a $104 million debt increase to help the city update some of its facilities.

Among the wish list for improvements: the Denver Botanic Gardens, zoo, Museum of Nature and Science, Bonfils Theater Complex and youth empowerment center.

The bond would also include the construction of two new libraries and upgrading existing libraries.

“These are destination attractions where it generates money for the city,” said Denver city councilwoman Debbie Ortega, who supports the measure. “These are opportunities for ensuring that these venues have attractions that encourage people to want to come to see them.”

Supporters believe this will help accelerate some of the projects currently underway and could help provide revenue to the city more quickly.

Opponents, however, question why the bond is necessary since voters approved a $937 billion Elevate Denver bond that promised to make many of the same improvements.

Additionally, opponents say this will increase property taxes and hurt middle- and low-income families who are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Ballot Question 2B

This bond question asks voters whether the city should be allowed to increase its debt by $38.6 million to help with housing the homeless.

If approved, the bond money would be used to buy the 48th Avenue shelter, buy and convert 300 motel rooms to function as shelters and offer upgrades to current city shelters.

Supporters of the ballot question say housing is critical and there is a growing need across the city, particularly with the pandemic.

Opponents say the city has spent enough on helping the homeless and they don’t believe this additional funding will resolve the issue.

Ballot Question 2C

This bond question asks voters to allow the city to increase its debts by $63,320,000 to improve Denver’s transportation and mobility system.

If approved, the money would be used to build out Denver’s bicycle infrastructure, bringing more bike lanes to south and central Denver and focusing on traditionally underserved areas that have not received these upgrades.

The money would also help with more sidewalk construction and other multi-modal improvements as well as the development of a 5280 Urban Trail in the heart of Denver.

“We have kids in some neighborhoods that in rainy or snowy weather literally have to walk in the street because they don’t have sidewalks,” Ortega said. “We need to close the gap and bringing all of our neighborhoods up to the same basic standards of infrastructure.”

Opponents of this ballot question say the city has built numerous bike lanes that not enough people use to justify a property tax increase.

Ballot Question 2D

This ballot question asks voters to allow the city to receive a bond of $54 million to help with upgrades to the city’s parks and recreation system.

If approved, the money would be used to build two new parks, one in Northeast Denver at 47th and Walden and one in South Denver in University Hills.

It would also allow for upgrades to existing parks to restore or replace playground equipment, athletic fields and courts, swimming pools and more. It would also allow the city to upgrade some of its public restrooms.

Some of the parks it says need upgrades include Harvey Park, Huston Lake Park, Dailey Park and Crestmoor Park.

The city also wants to use the money to renovate the Sloan’s Lake boat house. Supporters say this bond will create parks in underserved communities and move Denver closer to the goal of having every Denver resident within a 10-minute walk or bike ride to a nearby park.

Opponents point back to the 2017 Elevate Denver bond, which promised to do many of the same things this ballot question is offering. They say much of the money from that bond program is still unspent and there’s no reason the city needs more right now.

Ballot Question 2E

The most hotly-contested and most expensive bond question on the November ballot is 2E, which asks voters to approve a $190 million bond to help fund the construction of the National Western Complex.

If approved, the money will support 88 projects around the complex and bring the city closer to its goal of completely reimagining the area.

One of the bonds wish list projects is to turn the historic 1909 building into a public market where local vendors can come and sell their items to the public.

“The 1909 building is going to create the opportunity for entrepreneurs in the community to have space in the public market,” Ortega said. “This is going to be an economic driver.”

The bond money would also be used for the construction of a 10,000-seat National Western Center Arena to replace the current coliseum. The arena will be used to host concerts, expos, sporting events and more.

“I’m very strongly in support of it because if it doesn’t pass, I’m very concerned that it may be years before a next mayor is going to prioritize trying to raise funding to build the arena which will replace the coliseum,” Ortega said.

However, opponents of the measure say this project is more gentrification in the city that will drive low-income residents away from the area.

“This is building a tourist attraction and food hall in one of the low-income neighborhoods a Denver,” said Sarah Lake, the campaign manager for the No On the Arena Bond group.

Lake says the city’s own feasibility studies have shown that, when completed, the project will not be nearly as much of a revenue generator as is being advertised by supporters because the arena will be too small for big acts and to0 small for large ones. She also worries that there will not be enough parking for the venue.

“It is an economically unsound and socially unjust initiative that’s trying to pass the cost of a bad project onto taxpayers when the cities other plans fell through,” Lake said.

Others, like the Globesville, Elyria-Swansea Coalition, also oppose the bond question. The coalition says this complex is not what the community in the surrounding area needs to improve their living situation nor is it what they want.

They say the money would be better spent on equitable recovery projects such as permanent housing solutions and subsidized housing.

All of the bond measures would rely on property taxes to help pay back the city’s debts over the course of decades.

Together, all of the bond measures promise to offer a major face-lift to the city of Denver, but it will be up to voters to decide whether the cost is worth the investment.