Op-ed submission by Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman
In my district, some 3,000 seniors live in the Windsor Gardens community. One of their biggest concerns when it comes to infrastructure is sidewalks. Being a budding senior myself, I know how hard it can be to get around, especially if you’re in a wheelchair or use a walker. That’s why I’m delighted significant improvements to transport and mobility are the centerpiece of the bond measures being put to Denver voters on November 7.
Under the general obligation bonds, $937 million will be spent to improve and repair Denver’s infrastructure before it breaks down. Funding will go toward building 33 miles of sidewalks, repaving 287 miles of streets and upgrading intersections and bridges. Rec centers, public libraries and parks across the City will be remodeled. And Denver Health will receive a new state-of-the-art outpatient facility, while cultural institutions such as the Botanic Gardens and the Zoo are in line for much needed funding boosts.
This bond list was developed with more community input than any bond in our history. The City received more than 4000 suggestions. Committees made up of community members poured over these to create a list of the most urgent, most transformative, and most dispersed projects that create improvements throughout the City. By the time we were done, 460 individual projects were selected to receive bond funding.
How will the City pay back the bonds? Not through raising taxes. Property tax mill levies will remain the same – less than six tenths of one percent of a residential property’s actual value. And, there are strict contingencies in place to avoid cost overruns.
Under the bonds, 287 miles of streets will be repaved, fixing potholes and improving traffic flow. One of the most significant measures is the $55 million rapid transit bus project along East Colfax. The buses would serve roughly 50,000 commuters by 2035 and save not only traveling time but also provide safer, more efficient and easier boarding and exit for all riders. Another $20 million is slated to provide the avenue with medians, curb extensions, enhanced sidewalks, benches, lighting and crosswalks. All throughout town, sidewalks will be built to make bus stops and rail stations more accessible to our neighborhoods.
The bond measures support the critical role Denver Health serves in our community by creating a new Outpatient Medical Center. The new facility will allow the hospital to provide the best treatment for heart disease, cancer and mental health care for Denver residents of all ages. The bonds will allow Denver Health to centralize 17 medical specialty units, a surgery center, and expanded pharmacy, lab services and radiology in one easily accessible location.
Neighborhood libraries will also be big winners should voters approve the bonds. Denver’s Central Library is set for a $38 million boost including new technology, redesigned spaces, improved accessibility and critical deferred maintenance projects. Other libraries to be remodeled include 11 branch libraries all around Denver, many of which haven’t seen upgrades in more than 20 years.
Please join with me and vote YES on measures 2A through 2G. We need them all.