In his debut blog for Patch earlier this month, Eagle Rock resident Severin Martinez inspired a frequently acrimonious debate. Presenting the first in a series of government data about Colorado Boulevard’s painful history of auto crashes, Martinez argued that Colorado could be made a much better place by introducing bike lanes, which would not only slow down traffic but improve the environment and community life.
“These issues can be minimized through engineering,” wrote Martinez, a partly Scandinavian bicycle buff familiar with plans currently underway in his native Sweden to build a four-lane superhighway for bikes between a small, southern university town and the country’s third-largest city. “Take Back The Boulevard seeks to, among other things, re-engineer the street so that it is safer.”
Take Back the Boulevard (TBTB) is, of course, the local initiative to reclaim Colorado by rescuing it from the dominance of the automobile. The office of is a partner in the plan, and TBTB's second public meeting is scheduled today, Thursday, January 19, from 7-9 p.m. at the .
The first public meeting, attended by about 100 people and held at the , followed TBTB’s Sept. 14, 2011 kickoff at the , in which Colorado Boulevard business owners and landlords discussed the initiative’s broad aspects with members of the steering committee and other stakeholders in Eagle Rock.
If the previous public meeting was about discussing TBTB’s broad vision for making Colorado Boulevard a community focal point—Eagle Rock’s true center—Thursday’s meeting will largely revolve around nuts-and-bolts issues about what needs to be done to begin implementing the initiative’s goals.
“This one’s going to be heavily interactive,” explained Mott Smith, a public planning and development consultant who is one of the eight members of the TBTB steering committee. “We’re going to ask people to get into the weeds to try to figure out how things are going to fit.”
While big ideas will still be welcome at Thursday’s forum, the audience will be broken up into groups to discuss specific recommendations aimed at turning parts of Colorado into more of a community hub stretching from Avenue 64 to the 2 freeway.
For example, safety issues along the boulevard was one of the key points raised during the last public meeting. During Thursday’s meeting, attendees can expect to be asked “where specifically do you think it’s unsafe” and precisely where on the boulevard “bulbouts” or extra medians need to be installed to enhance safety, as TBTB steering committee member and urban planning consultant Jeff Jacobberger put it.
Smith and Jacobberger met with Patch last week in an effort to further TBTB’s dialogue with community members and to clear the air about certain misconceptions that might still persist in people’s minds.
Among the public reactions to Take Back the Boulevard, perhaps the most typical is the idea that the initiative wants to transform Colorado into the kind of place it’s arguably not cut out to be—modeled on Old Town Pasadena, for example.
And yet Old Town Pasadena, which thrives along the very same boulevard, is “a great example of a place whose fundamental character has changed” over the years as it went from a "hole" once known for little more than “porn and pawn” to a regional destination, said Smith.
Eagle Rock's Main Street
The task of improving the Eagle Rock stretch of Colorado Boulevard is made easier by the fact that “Colorado is already the neighborhood mainstream,” said Smith. “It’s not a place people avoid—it’s a place people go.”
And that’s why TBTB is not aimed at radically transforming Colorado Boulevard—nobody expects it to become a three-lane superhighway for bicycles—but about “shaping up and making it what it already is,” Smith added.
On the whole, in Smith’s view, Colorado’s story as a boulevard is no different from that of any other commercial street. “It’s really about land use and trends in development,” he said. “What we’re seeing is an echo back to ‘Main Street’—and people want their main street to be alive.”
Find out how to make that happen at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, by attending Take Back the Boulevard’s second public meeting at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.