The University of Colorado’s plans for CU South

If you attended the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Open House on September 26th, 2016 you may recall how contentious it felt. In the days leading up to the meeting, opponents to changes at CU South posted some false and alarming notices on trails in the area which resulted in public expressions of anxiety and uncertainty about annexation and Option D.  While city staffers were able to debunk some of the misinformation being spread, we believe a lot of people left the Comp. Plan Open House with unresolved questions and concerns about the purpose of annexation and CU’s long range plans for the CU South property.

In response, the University of Colorado has created this FAQ, Commonly Asked Questions about CU Boulder South. Here are a few excerpts.

I regularly use the CU Boulder South property for recreation, outdoor enjoyment and walking my dog. Will I still be able to do this when you develop the property?
Yes. Since purchasing the site we have provided the community with access to the area and that will continue. CU will maintain public access to the property, including publicly available trails and access to the city’s adjacent Open Space (where allowed by the city), parks and regional trail system regardless of what is ultimately developed on the property. In fact, the final connection for the last leg of the city’s South Boulder Creek Trail was made possible by CU providing an easement for the city to build a walkway across the wetlands.

What will CU develop on this property?
We don’t specifically know yet. Even identifying the long-term needs of the university is, in and of itself, a long-term project. All of our development projects go through a large number of review processes and we engage many stakeholders, including the community, all of which will take a significant amount of time.

We can tell you that any development at CU Boulder South would support the campus and community goals for environmental sustainability and resiliency by:
• Designing sustainable buildings to minimize or eliminate the overall carbon footprint of our facilities. All our new facilities meet USGBC’s Gold or Platinum LEED standards.
• Incorporating renewable energy sources
• Providing multimodal transportation access, minimizing automobile use with CU, regional and city bus transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian paths
• Using Xeriscape and native vegetation to conserve water
• Protecting jurisdictionally-designated wetlands and other significant environmental resources

We can also tell you what any future development might include:
• Creating floodwater mitigation areas to improve the flood safety of people, residences and
buildings downstream
• Creating low impact recreational and athletic fields which could serve shared community use
• Continuing to use the property as a training site for our cross-country track and tennis teams
• Adding restrooms and showers for athletes and restrooms and drinking fountains for attendees to sporting events
• Faculty and staff affordable, workforce housing. (We are currently conducting a survey of our staff and faculty to determine their housing needs, and whether the university might be able to develop housing to meet some of those needs.)
• Graduate student housing and/or upper division undergraduate housing incorporated into
academic villages
• Academic, instructional and research facilities
• Outdoor research spaces

We can also tell you that:
• Any development would maintain the same high aesthetic standards of other CU Boulder
properties
• The quality of CU Boulder as an institution of higher education is and will continue to be
reflected in its buildings — their quality, beauty, consistency, and permanence.
• Functional arrangement of buildings, while being mindful of preserving views, will be a defining characteristic for development of CU Boulder South
• The design of buildings will complement the existing topography and maintain sensitivity to
surrounding neighbors
• We will keep the community informed and work closely with the city as development plans
begin to emerge December 13, 2016

And here is what we can tell you that we do NOT intend to build on the site:
• A football stadium
• Towers à la Williams Village
• First-year freshman housing
• A bypass public roadway connecting Highway 93 and Highway 36
• A full build out of all 308 acres

Read the full document here: Commonly Asked Questions about CU Boulder South.

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Open House

People vulnerable to flooding when South Boulder Creek overtops U.S. 36 achieved a win in August 2015 when Boulder’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Study/Option D.

Unfortunately, our work isn’t done.  In order to move forward with Option D, the city must negotiate with University of Colorado to use 80+ acres of property owned by CU known informally as CU South.  CU is expected to request annexation into the City of Boulder as part of the negotiation process. The city, having received pushback in the last year about how they solicit citizen input on every issue, is not only bracing for resistance from people who oppose annexation, they are actively seeking to make sure those voices get heard.

As the project becomes noisier it’s imperative that the point of view of people who support flood mitigation and see annexation as an opportunity to assert control over what happens at CU South, also has a place.

You are invited (and encouraged!) to join us at one or both of the following events coming up in the next two weeks.  This is emotional work for those of us who experienced some of the worst flooding in Boulder in 2013, but it is also rewarding.

City Council Meeting
Tuesday, September 20th, 6:00 pm
Council Chambers
1777 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan – Open House
Monday, September 26th, 2016, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
St Paul’s United Methodist Church
4215 Grinnell Ave.
Boulder, Colorado

Option D Approved!

Boulder’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Planning Study/Option D last night! Read the full story in the Daily CameraSouth Boulder Creek flood mitigation moves forward. Here are a few excerpts

To the cheers of south Boulder residents, including several dozen people from the Frasier Meadows retirement community, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve “Option D” for South Boulder Creek mitigation.

The plan calls for the construction of a berm in Colorado Department of Transportation right-of-way and detention facilities on land owned by the university for a future south campus.

In addition to reducing the flood risk for a large portion of southeast Boulder, the berm and detention facilities should also keep U.S. 36 open in a major flood event, officials said.

The option was developed at the urging of area residents and avoids potential environmental impacts of an earlier proposal to build the berm on city-owned open space.

DOT has already done environmental mitigation in the area for a multi-use path along U.S. 36.

. . .

Residents of Frasier Meadows recounted harrowing stories of close calls in the flood of September 2013.

Dick Leupold said his wife, who was very ill at the time of the flood, was rescued from rising floodwaters but died two months later. He said he’ll always wonder if the flood hastened her death.

Ryan Eisenbraun said the residents of two apartment buildings he owns on Thunderbird Circle, including families with young children, had to escape powerful floodwaters and lost everything they owned.

“Residents were literally thrown across the room by the power of rushing water,” he said. “Some residents had to escape through broken windows because doors were mangled. Appliances were pushed through drywall.”

Rick Mahan of the South Boulder Creek Action Group said the flood’s impact is often characterized as water in basements, but in his neighborhood, it was “44 inches of rushing water.”

Councilwoman Lisa Morzel, who recalled working on flood mitigation plans years ago, said she understands residents of south Boulder live with trauma and fear from the 2013 floods.

“The city has to help stop that pain, and we have to do what we’re supposed to do, which is protect your lives and property,” Morzel said. “I hope we can move as fast as possible on this.”

Dear Neighbors

On Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 Boulder’s City Council will vote on a slate of proposals to prevent South Boulder Creek floodwaters from overtopping U.S. 36.

If flood mitigation is approved, it has the potential to remove many homes in Boulder, Colorado from the South Boulder Creek 100-year flood plain, and would mitigate the effects of a 500-year flood.

If City Council fails to proceed with plans to mitigate flooding at South Boulder Creek then it will fail to protect vulnerable residents in and near Boulder’s Frasier and Keewaydin Meadows neighborhoods – a diverse area containing single family homes, apartments, townhomes and Frasier Meadows Retirement Community –  from the overtopping of U.S. 36 that happened in the flood of September 2013.