By Nancy Hahn
Residents got a chance to provide their input on the effectiveness and direction of the city’s neighborhood revitalization plan this month.
The process to revitalize Wheat Ridge began in 2005, with goals of building strong households, strengthening the housing market, increasing home ownership, growing businesses, and attracting shoppers. City council adopted a Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy, NRS, an improvement plan for becoming more competitive in the region for businesses and new households.
This past July, council hired czb LLC, an urban planning and community development firm, to assess the successes of NRS and identify ways to add it. A Steering Committee of 27 Wheat Ridge residents also shared their thoughts about the community. In November, czb LLC presented their findings about the effects of the NRS to the council.
The first open house about this process was held Dec. 12 at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center to share findings and ask for ideas from the community. Presenters shared which strategies have already been implemented. For example, new housing in Wheat Ridge has been constructed and housing is also being renovated. The Corners at 38th Avenue and Wadsworth is up and running. Steps have begun to develop 38th Avenue as a main street area. A critical question throughout planning and implementation is whether Wheat Ridge can keep its values and character as it moves forward. Input from the community is a way to raise the chances of a very positive answer to that question.
This was an active, talkative, idea-filled open house. Each presentation was given by one of the Steering Committee members. One presentation shared “What are the Big Things Wheat Ridge Must Get Right?” There were five. Improving the condition of commercial corridors, like, 38th Avenue, Kipling Street, and Wadsworth Avenue was one. Creating neighborhood identities, offering different types of housing for various income levels, creating neighborhood gathering places, and improving infrastructure (stormwater management and a transportation network, for example) were the big things.
After ideas were presented, visitors to the open house viewed more specific details about each idea. Then, they were asked to use stickers to choose whether they felt the idea was important to them or not. Sometimes they marked maps or answered questions about their neighborhood. Every presentation asked visitors to share their ideas and opinions. The consulting team will now begin drafting a strategy document about the best ways for our Wheat Ridge community to move forward.
In early 2019, additional engagement opportunities will be available. Both small and targeted, as well as large and open to the public, will take place. The consulting team will also continue its analysis of Wheat Ridge data and policy issues. Strategies to further the revitalization will begin to take shape over the winter and a draft strategy document is expected in the spring.
To check for updates, visit www.ci.wheatridge.co.us and search for “NRS update”.