NANO Meeting Notes: April 14th

(Post adapted from notes taken by Karen Schwieder.)

NANO Board members who attended were Bill Gondrez, Mark Burry, Nadine Caldwell, Melody Parish, George Mills, and Karen Schwieder.

Guest Speakers: Bliss Coleman, Executive Director for ACAD (Aurora Cultural Arts District). Stanley Turner, president of Aurora Museum Foundation.

All meetings start at 5:30pm with a dinner for NANO Board and general members.

Bliss Coleman Speaks

ACAD’s public focus is around Fletcher Plaza and the monthly art jam on the first Saturday of every month. The art jam has art, music, and food vendors from 12p-4p. May’s Art Jam will be themed around Cinco de Mayo.

Upcoming plans include an ice skating event on Fletcher Plaza either in 2022 or 2023. Also, a tech project for re-education in the East Colfax community. Third, a language project due to over 100 languages being spoken in the community. For more information around an immigration map, please email Bliss Coleman.

Feedback included questions about safety, particularly shootings in the area and roundabouts to calm traffic. There were also questions around the address ACAD is housed (1400 Dallas Street). Renovations are not yet complete, and a timetable for completion was not available.

Later questions came up about the state of Fletcher Plaza. As per the city manager (Jim Twombly), lights and outlets need replaced, amplified sound needs restored, and there is talk to install goalposts for a future movie night.

ACAD is calling for more volunteers to serve on the board of directors. They have 6, and would prefer to have 12.

Stanley Turner Speaks

In early March, Mr. Turner got a hold of City Council to learn the status of the People’s Building (9995 Colfax Avenue). Francoise Bergan and Danielle Jurinsky of City Council got back with him immediately. In his email subject line he put: “Council Request”. The southeast corner of the building has structural damage and repairs seem to have stalled. The city claims they are going through the process to solicit bids and it will be $150,000 – $200,000 in costs just to repair to original condition. Unfortunately, the insurance policy only covers $50,000. Estimated start on that corner is June, but may go through to July.

Mr. Turner also covered the construction on Colfax between Florence & Dayton. Planters in the median will be removed, and the sidewalk will be extended up to 15 feet in some sections. The south or west side of Fox Theater will have a new plaza and outdoor space for events. To build on Ms. Coleman’s statement, 1400 Dallas is ready for artist-tenants, but the exterior has not been completed. A renovation at Dallas and Colfax has also stalled due to lack of funds.

The Central Library will be holding an appraisal fair April 23rd. All money goes to Aurora Museum Foundation. Previously, $20,000 was spent on various projects, including refurbishing phone booths to be used with electronic devices. One booth will go to Mission Viejo Library, and another will go to an exhibit at the History Museum.

George Mills inquired about a potential Juneteenth celebration to match Denver’s event. While sentiment is positive, there are no plans as of yet.

NANO Board Comments

Bill Gondrez: 2 ½ weeks ago, he attended the School Board meeting and there were a lot of angry people there; a lot of the Board members are new. “Blue Print” ideas to close down schools didn’t go over very well. Most of the new Board members, except one, were against closing the various schools: Sable Elementary, Paris Elementary, Park Lane Elementary, and North Middle School. The School Board decided to put everything on hold until they reevaluate. The Superintendent, Rico Munn, did not want to put it on hold. The Board may reconvene this summer.

2 weeks ago he submitted a $5,000 beautification grant application. If he gets approved, he will let us know. He is lacking one volunteer right now (email to apply). He will be renting trucks and going through alleyways. The staging area will be 16th and Havana at the church on the SE side of Havana.

Bill spoke with Reid Hettich, who is on the Community Advisory Council for the police oversight group IntegrAssure. The first town hall meeting regarding police oversight will be April 19th. They are looking for community members to join the panel.

Nadine Caldwell: There was a stakeholder group meeting held online, and she inquired why NANO was not invited. Bliss Coleman explained that the stakeholder group was for businesses only, not neighborhood organizations.

City of Aurora referred a construction project from Project Worthmore at 1666 Elmira Street. Redevelopment plan of entire block of Elmira from 17th to Delmar Parkway on the East side of the Street, which used to be Comitis and Aurora Mental Health Center. They intend to remodel existing 20,000 sq. ft. of the buildings, upgrade parking, landscape, and exterior which will incorporate pieces that educate pedestrians in the neighborhood about the diversity of the community. They will be able to hold community events and rent out office space to other mission-driven organizations. The developer is calling the building The Roots.

The southwest corner of 17th Avenue & Havana Street was noted as being for sale. For historical context, it was previously owned by Aurora Corporation, which bought property for Aurora Housing. Aurora Housing did nothing with the property, and Aurora Corporation dissolved. It was sold off in 2017 for $450,000.

The southeast corner of 16th Avenue & Dayton Street is now Harris Funeral Home. It is the former home of Second Chance Center (currently near 2nd Avenue & Potomac Street) and was a PSCO customer service center before that. They have done a beautiful job of sprucing up the landscaping with nice designs on the doors and very nice limousines.

Mile High Behavioral Group are currently in the Presbyterian Church at 16th and Kingston but have purchased the Kamsy Center building at 10190 E. Montview Blvd. Nadine had heard there was going to be homeless RV camping in the parking lot and that caused some concerns. After she talked with Bob Dorshimer, she felt more comfortable and asked him if he could arrange for some Board members to have a tour; Behavioral Group also involves Colfax Community Network. He gave her contact information for Rochelle Nadeau, Deputy Director, CCN; she gave Rochelle a call and a tour was scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Nadine was told when they move to the Kamsy Center they will have a kitchen, a pantry, and much needed space for care of after-school children ~20, whose families are homeless. Commercial property appraisal includes the land with 10 parking spaces. IJ sold it for $2 million.

On a related note, the marijuana store to the west of them want to sell because business is not good. It was noted that marijuana sales in the state are down 12% due to other states legalizing.

Karen Schwieder: Colorado Freedom Memorial is holding a Memorial Day event on May 28th. It starts at 8am with free pancakes, and the ceremony begins at 10am. Bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Aurora Animal Shelter is holding their spring vaccination clinic on May 14th. As of this writing, registration is closed but a waitlist is still being maintained.

Bill adjourned the meeting at 7:23 pm.

The next NANO meeting will be held at Moorhead on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Dinner will be at 5:30 pm, meeting at 6:00 pm and our meeting needs to be adjourned by 7:30 pm.

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