A brand new area, a brand new library in Westwood, and the whole lot the $ 450 million bond package deal in Denver might pay for

The Denver City Council has received the final list of projects that would be paid for through a general commitment package.

City lawmakers Tuesday glimpsed the 80+ city projects to be paid for through a proposed $ 450 million bond package.

It is up to the Denver City Council to forward the general package of commitments to voters for the November vote. Right now they are considering the proposal from the Treasury Department, which has drawn up a list of proposed projects based on feedback from the public, city authorities, city legislators and the administration of Mayor Michael Hancock.

What lawmakers saw on Tuesday is the final list of more than 80 projects, some of which include work in several parts of the city (like safety and pedestrian improvements and building sidewalks). That list was narrowed down from an initial list of 134 projects totaling $ 1.7 billion.

The reason the city wants to borrow money is because of the pandemic. City officials are designing the bond package to aid the city’s economic recovery by creating thousands of jobs. City CFO Brendan Hanlon said the money will help invest in people, not just projects themselves.

“What we’ve heard as part of our community outreach process is that we need a people-centered recovery,” Hanlon said. “This bond will do that.”

The money would be broken down into four sections, including facilities, housing and lodging, transportation, and parks and recreation.

A screenshot of a slide showing how the $ 450 million bond package would be split and what it would be paid for.

The city’s Treasury Department estimates that these general obligation bonds will create 7,580 jobs, $ 483 million in wages for work completed or related to the projects, and $ 1 billion in economic output, essentially project-related sales means as soon as they are completed. Those numbers apply to the entire subway area, not just Denver, according to Treasury Department spokeswoman Julie Smith.

So what are general bonds again? Here’s a quick refresher.

Some of the projects that would be funded by the bond package and highlighted by the city are:

  • A new library in Westwood ($ 13.9 million)
  • A new library in Globeville ($ 12 million)
  • A new medium-sized arena with a capacity of approximately 10,000 at the National Western Center ($ 160 million)
  • A park in University Hills ($ 5.5 million)
  • Renovation of May Bonfils Stanton Theater on Loretto Heights Campus ($ 30 million)
  • Reconstruction of the Mestizo Curtis Pool ($ 6.1 million)
  • Sidewalk Construction ($ 12 million)
  • Implementation of the bicycle infrastructure ($ 10 million)

The general commitments would also help fund numerous other improvements in multiple locations around the city – for playgrounds, park maintenance, toilet facilities and improving housing for the homeless.

Although lawmakers took no action on the proposals, they raised some concerns about the size of the money and what it is being paid for in the city.

The old Groundcovers garden center in University Hills that will one day become a new park.  The neighborhood isn't high on Denver Parks and Recreation's stock index list, but a new park here will help increase the number of Denverites living within a 10-minute walk of a park.  August 18, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

City council member Candi CdeBaca said people in her district had concerns about the planned arena. Hanlon said it will cost a total of $ 210 million to build, so the general bonds would pay for part of it, although they would generate revenue as well.

However, CdeBaca questioned whether adequate publicity was being done in neighborhoods in their district such as Elyria Swansea, an area asking about projects that could benefit the people who live there. The National Western Center is being built here.

She and other council members said they saw mailings asking residents to call council members asking them to help pay the arena with the general obligation bonds.

“A lot of things are going out of order here,” said CdeBaca.

Council President Stacie Gilmore said she was concerned about how much money would be loaned for the National Western Center project, which, in addition to the arena, would receive $ 30 million to renovate the historic 1909 stadium building. Gilmore added that she would like to see a proposal that takes into account jobs that are not just hourly, but careers with benefits such as sickness and retirement plans.

“Knowing that the arena will be an economic engine … we also have to invest in personnel development and do so comprehensively and in such a way that we not only create jobs for today and for a few years to come”, but we also create jobs that lead to careers “Said Gilmore.

Legislators will have the opportunity to formally vote on whether the borrowing measures should be passed on to the entire city council for review during a committee meeting on August 3rd.

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