By Steven Telleen
The South Boulder Creek floodplain has lengthy been identified to be a critical flood threat for residents of south and east Boulder. For many years it was identified that efficient flood mitigation on this floodplain requires an answer that manages a flood flow-rate outlined because the 500-year flood. Twenty-five years in the past each the Metropolis and County might have made completely different choices concerning the property, however they didn’t, so in the present day CU owns the floodplain.
On Sept. 11, 2013 South Boulder Creek, together with a number of upstream tributaries, overtopped their banks and the water mixed to create critical flash flooding within the Frasier Meadows space.
A set of residents, who had been rightly scared by this occasion, mobilized their emotional concern to demand that the Metropolis do one thing instantly. Over the following few years the Metropolis lastly settled on an motion, within the course of transferring from the identified 500-year mitigation must a 100-year mitigation venture. With out rationally evaluating whether or not the answer the Metropolis was providing would truly maintain them protected sooner or later the residents demanding motion, any motion, pressed the Metropolis onward. My fear right here is that these residents already seem to have developed a false sense of safety based mostly on the prospect of a “answer” that was decided to be insufficient even earlier than the 2013 flood. That could be a prescription to be unprepared once more when a 125-year flood occasion happens.
The issue is that CU South doesn’t have sufficient acreage to help each the Metropolis’s flood mitigation wants and CU’s wishes.
Throughout negotiations the Metropolis course of misplaced its deal with the issue that wanted to be solved and started myopically specializing in reaching an settlement for sharing the too-small CU South property. They forgot the necessity was 500-year safety. There’s a saying in administration consulting to explain this phenomenon: “When you’re as much as your a** in alligators, it’s exhausting to recollect the target was to empty the swamp.”
If the issue just isn’t sufficient acreage for each the Metropolis’s and CU’s wants, and transferring South Boulder Creek just isn’t possible, the apparent answer can be to search out extra acreage some place else for CU.
Early within the negotiations, when the “extra acreage” answer was raised within the type of an Space III land swap, CU stated they’d solely agree if the Metropolis first annexed the Space III land that might be swapped. Workers introduced this feature to Metropolis Council, and when requested, workers instructed Council that the “present schedule” wouldn’t make that land accessible for annexation till at the very least 2027.
Seemingly as a result of each workers and Council had been already too centered on a CU South answer they didn’t make an effort to unravel the “annexed land” demand, which Council might simply have accommodated by transferring the “schedule” ahead as an emergency annexation. As an alternative they modified the “want.” This is similar kind of administration error that within the second half of the twentieth Century gave the army $500 bathroom seats and plane that might not fly. On this case, it created an costly engineering venture that’s identified to be insufficient to mitigate the outlined threat.
It’s clear that by limiting the choices to contemplating solely the CU South property the land space just isn’t giant sufficient to accommodate the wants for a 500-year flood answer and CU’s wishes for improvement. It additionally is evident that there’s a answer that can accommodate each. A land swap will give the Metropolis entry to your entire CU South property for flood mitigation and can give CU land extra appropriate for improvement.
On the Sept. 21 Council Assembly, the place the CU South annexation “emergency” ordinance was permitted, the CU group stated they had been nonetheless prepared to entertain this land swap, so long as the land being swapped was annexed. If the Metropolis can rapidly annex CU South as an emergency they’ll do the identical with Space III land to truly tackle the identical emergency. Let’s cease enjoying politics and clear up the unique, very actual drawback!
You may assist by demanding that Council direct workers to start negotiations with CU on the situations of a land swap and to authorize instant motion to annex the required Space III acreage as an emergency. Then, discover a Referendum petition to signal. This petition requires a will-of-the-people vote to find out whether or not a majority of Boulder residents wish to settle for or repeal Council’s approval of their insufficient answer to a essential security want.
A land swap that provides the Metropolis entry to your entire property will open up mitigation options that may be applied sooner, cheaper, and with higher flood safety than the present settlement offers.
Steven Telleen lives in Boulder.