Federal dollars are crucial to addressing Littleton's housing, traffic and water concerns, city officials told U.S. Rep. Jason Crow on July 31. Crow represents Colorado's 6th Congressional district, …
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Federal dollars are crucial to addressing Littleton's housing, traffic and water concerns, city officials told U.S. Rep. Jason Crow on July 31.
Crow represents Colorado's 6th Congressional district, which rings Denver's northern, eastern and southern suburbs, stretching from Thornton through Brighton, Aurora, Centennial, Highlands Ranch and Littleton. Crow visited Littleton as part of a districtwide listening tour.
Littleton has made good use of federal Community Development Block Grants in recent years, City Manager Mark Relph told Crow, though previously the grants have been prioritized toward infrastructure improvements. Going forward, Relph said, Littleton would like to redirect some of the grants toward affordable housing programs like South Metro Housing Options.
Littleton, like much of the Front Range, is struggling with the impacts of high housing costs, Mayor Debbie Brinkman told Crow. Much of the city's new housing stock is high-priced and does little to address the lack of workforce housing, she said.
“Land prices are high, and developers want to make their money back,” Brinkman told Crow. “As much as we love our little downtown, keeping it thriving is a challenge if nobody who works there can afford to live nearby. We need to get more dense housing in some places.”
Federal cash will also be necessary to overhaul the intersection of Santa Fe Drive and Mineral Avenue, said Public Works Director Keith Reester. Though the city recently landed a $9 million grant to improve conditions at the clogged crossing, the ultimate fix — a flyover like the one at Santa Fe and Belleview Avenue — could cost more than $90 million. Much of that money would likely need to come from the federal level, Reester told Crow.
“At the end of the day, who loses?” Brinkman said about congestion at the intersection. “It's the people who want to live, work and play in Littleton.”
Tackling federal red tape will also help Littleton and other partners in the South Platte Working Group rework sections of the South Platte River, Brinkman told Crow.
The South Platte Working Group and its partners at the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, who manage the river, are waiting on a long-delayed signoff on a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which has final say on water projects, Brinkman said. The local groups would like to rework rapids and pools in the river to provide better recreational opportunities, Brinkman said, but “you can't move a rock in here without the Army Corps saying it's OK.”
Crow said he was happy to write letters of support to federal agencies to bolster Littleton's applications for federal money, and said he would see what he could do about the South Platte permit delay.
Littleton's situation of grappling with housing, traffic and water puts it in good company, Crow said, because those are primary concerns along the entire Front Range.
“These are the issues that really determine whether a community can thrive and be accessible to everybody,” Crow said.
Crow said he's focusing on municipal-level issues in the face of Washington gridlock, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to bring hundreds of bills passed by the House of Representatives for a vote before the Senate.
“It's extremely frustrating to see the lack of progress on the Senate side and to not have a partner willing to work with us,” Crow said. “But one of the things I love about government at the city level is you have leaders who have to get the job done. If the trash doesn't get picked up and the potholes don't get filled, people feel that.”
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