AURORA | Design plans for a new police and fire training facility will be finalized this year as Aurora City Council members approved funding for that, and several other projects at a budget meeting Oct. 5.
The design will cost about $2 million and the project will cost about $22 million, which will be paid for through bonds without additional taxes levied on Aurora residents. The new facility will be built near the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and replace current, outdated facilities that are spread throughout the city and surrounding counties. It’s slated to include 31,000 square feet of education training classrooms, 19,000 square feet of vehicle training and 23,000 square feet of K-9 training, a burn building, and a search and rescue training structure. The city’s police and fire officials have lobbied for a new joint-training facility for years. Council members agreed that it was important.
“It needs to happen,” said Councilman Bob Roth.
A proposal by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan to spend $2.7 million on design plans for a recreation center in Ward V was defeated by council members at the meeting. The total cost of the center would have been $33.5 million, and it was part of Hogan’s priorities for the city. But council members agreed to spend $750,000 on laying out a plan to entice private companies to help pay for a new recreation center.
“There is appetite in the community for a public-private partnership on a recreation center,” Roth said.
A council policy committee will finalize plans for the money in the coming months. Meanwhile, Aurora residents still plan to ask voters next year to increase taxes to pay for new recreation centers in the city. Council members also approved $500,000 to get rid of potholes and cracks in the asphalt on Montview Boulevard. Hogan said the improvements would make the road better looking for visitors to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. In addition to road improvements, the council approved $200,000 to purchase books and audiobooks for the city’s libraries and $300,000 for a branding campaign for the city.
Councilwoman Barb Cleland said Aurora residents and residents in other communities should be more aware of the positive aspects of the city. Denver-based media tend to report only on crime in Aurora, she said.
“We need a PR campaign to work with various groups to talk about how truly great we are,” she said. Council members also approved $100,000 for landscaping improvements at the Community College of Aurora’s Lowry campus.
“It looks like a prison yard because there’s no landscaping,” Hogan said.
Additional expenditures approved at the meeting include:
• $40,000 for an international festival hosted by the city
• $25,000 for improvements to holiday lighting at city facilities
• $100,000 for bicycle path improvements
• $75,000 for a new code officer
• $500,000 for median improvements
Proposals that were defeated included spending $500,000 to redevelop Regatta Plaza, and spending $1.7 million on employee bonuses. Councilwoman Renie Peterson said she was disappointed that employees won’t receive extra money.
“It’s not fair for us to sit and talk about all the wonderful things we want to add (to the city) and not talk about what our employees have sacrificed,” she said.
Another proposal that was defeated was Hogan’s idea to develop a new cultural arts center, museum and central library in Ward III. Council members agreed to talk about his idea at a later date. They will also talk about ways that nonprofit community organizations could use city-owned space for free.
“We have plenty of office space in the city,” Hogan said. “As long as they recognize our hours, (we can) make space available to community organizations that we support in lieu of spending dollars.”
Council members must formally vote on the 2014 budget at a meeting in late October before the budget is finalized.