This week's topic: Residents packed a public hearing Tuesday on development and flood mitigation plans for CU South. Your take?
In 2005, I moved to Boulder to study structural engineering. In my intro to civil engineering class, a group assignment was to plan the development of CU South in order to meet the university's needs. We were tasked with balancing sports venues, administrative space, classrooms, housing, and parking for CU's increased enrollment. As part of our assignment, we designed 1,000 units of housing.
Twelve years, 2,500 students, and 3,500 faculty and staff later, CU has a proposal for the space that addresses a large variety of concerns: keeping wetlands and trails intact, minimizing impact on nearby roads and neighborhoods, and reducing flood risk for downstream communities. This proposal, however, provides no more housing than my project in 2005.
Thousands of employees and students commute to CU from outside of the city. A significant portion of these commuters drive personal vehicles, creating pollution, contributing to climate change, and causing traffic. Fourteen percent of CU students car commute — a number that decreases as access to bike paths and bus routes increases.
The university's current plan is for average suburban density, but it needs to boldly address its environmental impact. With creative planning, more than double the housing could be offered in CU South. This project needs to move forward not just for of the thousands of residents across the freeway who will benefit from the flood protections, but also for the thousands of members of CU's community who need a place to live.
Cha Cha Spinrad, email@example.com, https://twitter.com/chaspinrad
In the early 1990s, the CU Boulder South property was offered for sale to the city of Boulder many times prior to any discussions with CU. Despite the efforts of then Mayor Leslie Durgin to persuade her fellow council members to purchase the property, the city declined to do so. What City Council was thinking is left to speculation. Were they thinking that they would just be able to legislate ownership away from Flatirons and take the property? Big mistake. Both in hindsight and at the time.
Unlike the city at the time, CU had the foresight to realize that they needed to purchase the property. Even though the property is not ideal, too far from campus and partially in a floodplain, the university was landlocked and knew that it needed more space to expand and thrive 25, 50, 100 years down the road.
So the city is now left with two options. The university needs more housing and classroom space. If the city could identify and purchase suitable land near the main or east campus and trade it to the university for the CU South property, that would solve everyone's problems with the development of the CU South property. The only other option is to hope that whatever the university builds on CU South won't be Williams Village 2. The other thing we have to be grateful for is that Flatirons didn't sell the property to CSU.
Chuck Wibby, firstname.lastname@example.org
I can't stand the suspense. CU hungrily eyes the piece of land known as CU South and imagines all that it could do for the school. CU already owns this land that currently lies in the unincorporated county. CU needs housing, it needs classrooms. But it also needs the city's amenities to make this development happen.
Boulder, a city that has too often been scorned and ignored by the often imperious CU, now has the annexation chip burning a hole in its pocket. If played right, this chip will be leverage of a sort to try to bend the indomitable university to its will. The city and CU both know that CU doesn't have to play by the same rules as everyone else in the city. CU has scoffed in the past at building height limits and the rest, but now the city may have the upper hand.
CU sidles up to the city and whispers in its ear that it wants to talk. It wants to cooperate. CU murmurs sweet nothings but so far has not fully disclosed its actual plans. The city listens warily but it wants a commitment.
The dubious neighbors are split. They want flood mitigation but some fear that the proposed dam may tarnish the view of the city from Davidson Mesa. Others like the berm but aren't sure it will work. A few get a little NIMBYish about the housing. And where will they walk their dogs?
Fern O'Brien, email@example.com
A few weeks ago, the city of Boulder conducted an information session where citizens could discuss, among other things, CU South. Ten or 20 well-meaning experts from the city of Boulder posted maps and informational posters, and answered the questions of a few hundred interested citizens. A major concern of residents was that the barrier would stop the flow of water, negatively affecting the ecosystem. One of the experts told me that the city has gone to great lengths to design a barrier that would have a series of openings that would allow groundwater to pass through the barrier at a rate that would be compatible with the land's natural state.
When there are 10 residents for every expert, people spend more time talking with each other than they do with the experts, and form their own conclusions. People gravitate toward the group with which they agree, if for no other reason than that they are neighbors. In much the same way that Trump supporters do not believe experts, Table Mesa residents argue that the barrier will be a problem, although their real concern is that it will take away a much-loved opportunity for a free dog walk and cause more neighborhood traffic, while Frasier Meadows residents worry about the flood hazard even though it seems unlikely that the 2013 flood will be repeated anytime soon. Because of emotional issues like these, the City Council deserves a raise.
Rett Ertl, firstname.lastname@example.org
First the DIA flight-path change, and now this. South Boulder is under siege!
When government hurries for no apparent reason, it's either an emergency or something fishy's going on. There are complaints from inside and outside city/county government about the way the CU South proposal is being expedited. Planning Board member Crystal Gray emailed the City Council's hotline, "Why is there a rush to designate the land use now when council has not discussed the annexation agreement — at least publicly — and what that will address?" Good questions.
As former councilman Spense Havlick pointed out in his May 19 Camera column, "Once annexed with city facilities, the rules and regulations of the city no longer need to be followed by the University of Colorado..." All bets will be off. Instead of peaceful pastures, there will be towering high-rises standing majestically, framed by the huge highway sign arch over U.S. 36 as we drive into Boulder.
Edie Stevens, of the infamous Boulder Land Grab case, voiced her concerns at a recent public hearing about the CU South plans. Perhaps Ms. Stevens could simply walk across the property a few times, shuffling as she goes, and claim adverse possession. Hey, it's worked before.
A tour of downtown will convince you that if there's a dime to be made in taxes, the City Council will be all for growth. With the current leadership, massive development on the CU South site is all but inevitable.
Don Wrege, email@example.com
The Camera's editorial advisory board members are: Mara Abbott, Judy Amabile, Rett Ertl, Michelle Estrella, Fern O'Brien, Cha Cha Spinrad, Alan Stark, John Tweedy, Chuck Wibby and Don Wrege. (Steve Fisher is an emeritus member.)
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.
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