You Can Fight City Hall

by Osman Parvez
Sharp eyed readers probably caught this picture in my recent slide show from the Farmer's Market. As you probably already know, the folks organizing against the Washington Village Cohousing Project have stepped up their efforts. That's right, in the face of City Council's ruling to allow the development, the neighborhood group is attempting to gather enough signatures to have a referendum on the matter.

From the Washington Neighborhood Association:

On October 23rd, 2007 the Boulder, Colorado City Council voted 7 to 1 (Crystal Gray, opposed) in favor of decimating the site of our neighborhood's most treasured asset - Washington Elementary School - with a massively insensitive housing and office project. First, the School District decided that small neighborhood schools that kids could actually walk to are NOT sustainable. Then, Wonderland Hill Development Company decided that it WAS sustainable to spread high end condos, million dollar detached homes, and professional offices over the site from rim to rim, allowing only the front of the historic school to remain in public view. Then, the City (first staff, then Planning Board, then Council) decided to endorse Wonderland's plan, ignoring the sustained and well reasoned input volunteered by concerned citizens from all around Boulder. In so doing, the City decided that financial viability for the developer was primary and that citizen participation counts for next to nothing. THIS MUST NOT STAND!

For the record, I applaud the group for organizing itself and taking action. While it's easy to deride the neighborhood association for NIMBYism, I have to admit that the low price the City is selling the land to the developer begs the question: Whose interest are being served here? However, I not without criticism of the Association. Is this just a protest without alternatives? If not, what's the alternative being put forth? In any event, if you care about development in Boulder, this is a good issue to pay some attention towards. Beginning tomorrow night, we'll have a largely new class of people serving on City Council. Where they go with this will be interesting to watch.

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