Referred Measure B allows city to finish needed roadway projects
Late last summer, the city’s finance director informed the Grand Junction City Council there is a possibility we might be able to pay off the bonds for the Riverside Parkway as early as 2015.
In anticipation of that possibility, the council decided to create a public process to gauge what the community would like to do with those funds, if anything, once the parkway is paid off. The funds could possibly be put toward a variety of projects, including developing new park properties such as Las Colonias or Matchett, building a recreation center, building new fire stations or completing specific transportation projects.
City staff developed a short survey that was sent to Grand Junction utility customers, as well as posted online. We also held an open house at Two Rivers Convention Center, where community members were invited to join us and share their thoughts regarding the various projects or say they would rather not use those funds for any more projects.
At the end of the process, nearly 1,800 people had taken the survey and 81 percent rallied around using the money above the TABOR Amendment limits for transportation projects.
Referred Measure B, which will be on the upcoming ballot, proposes no increase in taxes. It simply asks the voters to continue things as they are by letting the city use revenues over the TABOR limit once the parkway debt is paid off. Currently that amount is $2.4 million a year.
If the ballot question is approved, the revenue will be used for transportation projects. They could include the Beltway — 29 from North Avenue to I-70 and a new interchange at I-70, as well as 24 Road from Patterson to I-70 — Horizon Drive from 27 ½ Road to the airport and North Avenue from First Street to 29 Road.
The city has received a resolution of support from the Horizon Drive Business Improvement District, along with a letter of support from the North Avenue Owners Association.
Measure B does not ask for a permanent change to TABOR, and once the projects are paid for, the TABOR limits will again apply.
When we invest in capital improvements in our community, it is estimated that for every dollar spent, it generates $1.75 in the form of jobs, wages and spending.
The Beltway would be the completion of what was begun years ago with Riverside Parkway, a loop around the city, reducing congestion, creating faster travel times and improving community connectivity.
It could also be a catalyst for the east end and North Avenue commercial development.
The North Avenue plan looks for buildings to be closer to the street, front doors that are inviting and readily accessible, signage on buildings rather than pole signs, more and safer pedestrian facilities and inviting streetscapes, all of which will create an environment of vitality and livability.
Current traffic counts are as high as 30,000 vehicles a day. We have more than 550 businesses with annual sales tax revenue of $4 million.
Colorado Mesa University is an excellent example of how the corridor could look. Currently, North Avenue resembles Colfax Avenue in Denver, and it is in serious decline.
The city has received a federal grant of $1.9 million to help begin the redevelopment process, but it will take much more to make needed improvements.
Horizon Drive is the gateway to our city from I-70 and the 200,000 passengers that emplane here annually. More than 20,000 vehicles drive the corridor daily. The development plan envisions crosswalks, medians, roundabouts and bike lanes. This will all improve safety where there have been two pedestrian fatalities in the last two years. The plan also includes consistent landscaping and lighting.
This corridor contains 70 percent of all the hotels in Grand Junction and generates more than $3 million in city sales tax.
Measure B simply asks voters to let the city keep and spend revenue it now receives. It makes sense to ask you now because, if the parkway is paid off in 2015, we would not be able to bring forward a ballot question again in a municipal election until at least 2015, and the timing would be conflicting, at best.
Once the Beltway has been completely designed, we have our partners at the county and state on board and we know the total scope of the project, a future City Council will have to ask the voters if they think bonding for the debt to complete the project is a good idea. It’s taxpayers’ money. I believe in TABOR, and asking voters’ permission is the right thing to do.
Please join me on April 2 and vote “Yes” on Referred Measure B so we can complete the vision of a parkway and other transportation improvement projects that completely loop the community together.
Jim Doody is a member of the Grand Junction City Council.