March 2022 Town Hall Meeting

Attendance: approximately 20.

Crystal Murillo’s town hall meeting began 6:05p at a conference room in MLK Jr. Library. Bill Gondrez and Nadine Caldwell (North Aurora Neighborhood Organization [NANO]) were present, as was Ward 4 Councilor Juan Marcano. A Spanish interpreter was available to translate, which at least one resident needed.

The meeting opened with a presentation on homelessness from Wren Echo, touted as a subject matter expert from the Denver chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. Wren talked about various effects of Denver’s camping ban on the homeless population there – including lost ID cards, stolen/trashed possessions, and social isolation. Wren believes that it would be inappropriate to have a camping ban in Aurora. The three main steps proposed were to develop relationships with the homeless population, know the laws regarding homelessness, and advocate for various changes – one of which being a Housing First model.

No residents were openly hostile to any of these, though some brought up alternate complaints. A local landlord mentioned that they have to pass down tax & insurance rate hikes down to their tenants, and suggested that counties ought not raise taxes on properties until they are sold. Another resident asked how much of the homeless population are unable to afford shelter versus those who choose to go without. A third resident claimed that Aurora Warms The Night is no longer in operation to provide services. (This claim has not yet been checked.)

City Manager Jim Twombly presented next about various changes happening in Ward 1. The headquarters for Aurora Cultural Arts District (1400 Dallas Street) is reported to be almost completely refurbished, and prior residents will be offered their spaces back in the near future. Aurora Parks & Rec is lobbying to provide powerwashing services through the Ready To Work program, a $250,000 expense. (Full disclosure: I did not take proper notes on the source of the funding.) Mr. Twombly mentioned that city money was leveraged to get $2 million from the state to help with pedestrian safety. It was not mentioned where that money would be deployed.

The neighborhood improvement grant program was advertised again, as was the mobile response team augmenting police for 911 calls. Speaking of police, some of them will also be patrolling on bicycle this year during warm weather. Crystal & Jim both spoke highly of the city’s ability to be “proactive and ongoing” in their ability to handle issues.

Feedback was once again mixed. One woman insisted that some city funds should be earmarked for Asian-American issues. There were also inquiries on grants for air pollution, and a question about FRA grants. Also, a misunderstanding about FRA standing for Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority instead of another three-letter acronym. (Which I forgot to write down.)

Sgt. Sandoval of the Aurora Police Department was the last to present. He invited residents to join in a “community relations” project to help clean up Central High School on Sunday the 27th. He also reported that unit staffing would decrease this year from 9 officers to 4. Residents complained about reckless drivers on Havana Street, and the officer agreed those frustrations were valid.

The meeting adjourned at 7:45p, 15 minutes behind schedule. The next meeting is scheduled for 6-7:30pm, 21Apr2022.

If there is anything from this meeting I missed or you believe needs to be clarified, all comments are welcome. I have tried to be kind to my neighbors; please be kind in turn.

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