Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, Highland, Jefferson Park Are Part of Newest Plans
If there are things about your neighborhood you love, or things you want to see improve, now is the time to tell the city what you want to see preserved or changed. The city conducts planning at the large citywide level, resulting in plans like Blueprint. They also do plans around a single area, like a stadium district. Possibly one of the most important is the neighborhood planning initiatives (NPI) that focus on a few neighborhoods at once. Large enough in scope to have a meaningful impact on a community, but small enough to get into fine details, these plans can dramatically influence the future of a community.
The city focuses on a few areas at once. In North Denver, The West Area Plan (including West Colfax) will likely wrap up towards the end of 2021, and the Near Northwest Area Plan is formally kicking off this month. The Near Northwest includes four neighborhoods: Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, Highland, and Jefferson Park.
Rather than just focusing on specific aspects like transportation, parks, zoning, etc, these plans are holistic views including nearly every aspect of city government, which Elizabeth Weigle, Senior City Planner for Community Planning and Development, describes as a “once in a generation opportunity” to have an impact on the four neighborhoods.
Planning a family and want to see sidewalk improvements to accommodate strollers? Your input can influence funding and policies for that. Do your furbabies not have enough space to play in North Denver’s sole dog park? Give your input and help direct parks to spend more on dog parks. Looking for a place for your in-laws to retire and be close (but not too close)? New zoning such as allowing accessory dwelling units can come from input in this process too.
Weigle talked with The Denver North Star about a few specific things that came from community input in other NPIs. In the East Area Plan, displacement of immigrant and refugee communities along East Colfax came up as a serious concern. The end result was more funding to programs to help residents and small businesses stay in the neighborhood. In Southwest Denver, a similar community planning effort determined the fate of the Loretto Heights campus. Residents highlighted the need for affordable housing and a love of the older buildings on campus. The solution was converting a former campus building into affordable housing, meeting the housing need and preserving the buildings.
The first step is a kickoff meeting on July 27th at 6 pm that’s open to all residents and will also have Spanish language translation for non English speakers. That meeting will be virtual to maximize participation, but there will be plenty of in-person opportunities as well. The first meeting will explain the process and give the opportunity for community members to give input on what they like and what they dislike about the communities. This will help to frame future conversations, including smaller workshops, on specific topics.
Weigel said her department also welcomes the opportunity to present to organizations across North Denver. Registered Neighborhood Organizations certainly, but also other groups with members in the area: school meetings, movies in the park, groups like Elks, churches — anywhere that people are assembling.
Decisions are made by those who show up. This is the opportunity to show up and decide what North Denverites want in their communities.
For more information on the plan and to register for the July 27th kickoff meeting, visit www.denvergov.org/nearnorthwestplan. If you’d like to set up a presentation or meeting, you can contact Elizabeth Weigel at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect by phone by calling 720-865-3266 (English or Spanish).