Since 1978, the Sloan’s Lake Citizens’ Group (SLCG) has represented the neighborhood located between 10th and 29th Avenues and Sheridan and Federal Boulevards along with the West Denver Concerned and Active Neighbors (CAN) and the Greater Avondale Heights Improvement Association (GAHIA). The CAN was organized around the first West Colfax Neighborhood Plan in 1987. GAHIA merged with SLCG in 1992 to form a more unified and effective force for neighborhood cohesion.
Today’s neighborhood improvements are being built on a 35-year-old foundation. A list of select SLCG accomplishments over the years demonstrates how substantive, constructive and gradual change creates and maintains healthy neighborhoods.
The 1987 West Colfax Neighborhood Plan.
The 1988 Lakewood Gulch Master Plan. Prior to this effort, the gulch was a dumping ground for appliances, furniture, and stolen cars. SLCG members made a presentation to Mayor Federico Pena. Funding was provided for the first phase by the 1989 municipal bond issue. Since then, the gulch has seen gradual improvements to make it a city park amenity for cyclists, walkers, joggers, and children enjoying the playgrounds. Thanks to Marshall Vanderburg for guiding the process with the involvement of West Colfax and Villa Park neighbors.
The Golda Meir House was saved from demolition and moved to a safe location by SLCG member Jean May when she was researching neighborhood homes to be featured in the SLCG cookbook, Ethnic Flavors.
Stadium parking issues have been a long-time issue addressed by SLCG. SLCG has served as a strong voice for improving the quality of life for residents impacted by stadium traffic and parking congestion.
Hallack Park at 1900 Irving that transformed a muddy vacant lot for stadium parking into a city park and playground. Thanks to Alice Thompson, the first SLCG secretary and other founding members.
The 1991 “West Colfax Welcome” sign at West Colfax and Irving, and the landscaped median extending eastward to Federal Boulevard. Both efforts achieved with guidance from Marshall Vanderburg, Paul Lane and then-SLCG president Mike Casey.
The 1993 West Colfax Revitalization Plan by the cities of Denver and Lakewood.
The West Corridor Major Investment Study concluded by RTD in 1997. Thank you Nettie Moore for your insistent and exhaustive efforts.
The West Colfax Partnership incorporated in 1996 in collaboration with Provenant Health Partners of St. Anthony Hospital that led to the creation of the West Colfax Business Improvement District. The partnership consisted of business owners, residents and hospital leadership and initially organized by Marshall Vanderburg.
The 1999 West Colfax Avenue Transportation Study.
The 1999 Colfax Heritage Corridor sponsored by the cities of Aurora, Denver and Lakewood, and the Colorado State Historical Fund.
The 2001 Healthy Neighborhood Initiative to create a cohesive community that supports cultural and economic diversity and improves the quality of education, housing, employment, health and public safety. Thanks to Beth Elland, Margie Grimsley, two dozen Villa Park, West Colfax, and Sloan’s Lake residents, and representatives from the St. Francis Center, Butterfly Hope and St. Dominic Parish.
The 2001 Healthy Neighborhood Community Survey that identified neighborhood perceptions of strengths, physical and mental health care, problem properties, public transportation, park maintenance, homelessness, youth, pets, crime, education, public safety, ethnic and religious issues, and senior services. Thanks to Beth Elland, Margie Grimsley, and those involved from the beginning.
The 2001 Healthy Initiative Neighborhood Visioning at Cheltenham School, where approximately 100 community residents participated in breakout sessions to develop solutions based on the issues identified in the community survey.
Festival of Unity, following the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative, was held at Cheltenham School to recognize the Jewish, Irish, Italian and Hispanic cultures in the neighborhood. Thanks to Beth Elland, Alana James and Cheltenham Principal Patsy Roybal.
The 2001 support to delete 10 parking spaces for the new Girls, Inc. buildings at West Colfax and Irving to keep a long-time neighbor and encourage West Colfax economic redevelopment.
The 2006 West Colfax Plan where residents from Villa Park, West Colfax and Sloan’s Lake created a vision for the area bounded by 10th and 18th Avenues and Sheridan and Federal Boulevards. The effort was preceded by a 2001 workshop called the West Colfax Small Area Plan involving approximately 100 residents. Thanks to everyone in this two-year investment of volunteerism.
The 2006 St. Anthony Redevelopment Task Force. Ditto for the two-year investment of volunteer time. Beginning at the end of 2010, SLCG and other groups helped convince Centura to leave a health care presence on the campus.
West Side Library by the Denver Public Library at West Colfax and Irving. Altered the process to mitigate emotions with the Villa Park Neighborhood Association. Thanks to Eric Duran for working to get the library in our neighborhood.
West End Flats by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. SLCG engaged CCH in October 2009 to promote neighborhood engagement and to generate a legally enforceable policy statement for client management, property management and an advisory committee to integrate tenants into the community.
The Right Track Program, in collaboration with Catholic Charities based in the Mulroy Center at 13th Avenue and Knox Court, for juvenile offenders assigned to community service projects.
Safe Streets Now for mitigating criminal activity led in partnership with two other neighborhood groups, Denver Police District One, and other city agencies.
Anti-graffiti efforts, neighborhood clean-up days, negotiating agreements between neighbors and either nuisance properties or potentially nuisance properties, COP Shop establishment, fundraising for school supplies and homeless shelters, mitigating youth violence, Good Neighbor Awards, collecting for the neighborhood food bank, and too many other to list.
When Nettie Moore was asked about our history, she quickly listed three dozen more commitments dating to 1978, SLCG’s founding year. Nettie was featured in a North Denver Tribune article written by Marla Benroth. Nettie, an 86-year neighborhood resident, she is a historian and a neighborhood recipe ingredient for community strength. The 30,800 Google results for “denver public library nettie moore” is reflective of the actions required for building healthy cities.
The above is only a brief listing, and as Nettie has demonstrated, literally dozens more could be shown. Many individual credits are lacking above, but we are grateful to each and everyone of you. You know who you are.
The accomplishments demonstrate what an RNO can achieve by neighbors with a strong sense of ownership of their neighborhood. We’ve been criticized for being “too quiet” in marketing ourselves. Apparently, modesty is one of our characteristics likely due to our philosophy of activism. With origins in the civil rights and student movements of the ’60s, neighborhood democracy’s core is gathering together individuals into collective decision-making where people have a competency they would not otherwise have. Except in cases of clear consensus, hard positions are rarely taken in deference to information for educating people to make their own decisions. Of the dynamics at work, the most important may be interpersonal communication skills grounded in active listening. It is purposely non-adversarial, which may explain why we seem to be so quiet, yet effective.