Glendale is set to move forward with its riverwalk project

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The amendment passed the state legislature last April but was vetoed by Governor John Hickenlooper the following month. In a letter explaining why, he wrote that expanding the number of projects would alter the intent of the original law. Without naming names, he wrote that the RTA is meant to help projects that will benefit the whole state, not "projects that are likely to serve only the interests of a particular community." Allowing six projects to be approved "simply because there are six applications...adds undue pressure to the process," he added.

Glendale officials were livid. They'd already spent approximately $200,000 on the application process, which included the required cost of paying a third-party analyst to review their proposal.

"I don't think the governor likes the RTA," says Line. "It would have been great for him to say that before people paid money for the analysis."

But by that point, Glendale was in too deep to back out. The city had already submitted its in-depth application, a slick proposal outlining the proposed benefits of the riverwalk.

"People are drawn to water," it proclaims before describing the riverwalk as "an urban oasis" on "the last remnant of Cherry Creek...not hemmed in by eight-foot walls." It goes on to offer a 24-hour imagining of life on the riverwalk.

Some excerpts:

"8 a.m.: Tourists are leaving their hotels, curious about what the riverwalk has to offer. A Rugby Hall of Fame? That deserves a second look later!...

"12 p.m.: Yesterday's rugby match between England and Ireland is playing on the video screens. Families are picnicking on the banks of the creek...

"8 p.m.: The air is electric with sound...music spilling from the bars, street performers entertaining the crowd, friends laughing and calling to each other. Shops in Cherry Creek are closing down and employees and shoppers alike are headed over...

"12 a.m.: The boats have stopped running and food trucks are just arriving. Everyone waits to see where the band will go after the concert!...

"2 a.m.: Some bars are starting to close. Some patrons are on their way home; others are just arriving from somewhere else. All roads lead to the riverwalk..."

Other amenities would include a four-foot-deep, man-made navigable channel that would wind through the entire riverwalk, according to the application. Electric riverboats would carry passengers up and down it, and arched bridges would allow pedestrians to walk over it. The application also describes a 4,000-seat outdoor amphitheater that would host up to thirty concerts and events per year in partnership with entertainment promoter AEG Live.

One "unusual component of this proposal," according to the application, would be using Infinity Park's ability to televise rugby matches worldwide to promote Colorado tourism by airing commercials for the riverwalk and other destinations. "Research indicates that business owners in the skiing, dude ranch, rafting, hunting/fishing and golf sectors would welcome the opportunity to advertise abroad," the application says. "Glendale will offer affordable ad production and airtime."

The proposal also includes the aforementioned Rugby Hall of Fame. Its purpose would be "to educate and promote interest in rugby through interactive exhibits" and memorabilia. A trolley would run between Infinity Park and the riverwalk, bringing fans to eat, drink and play.

But the hallmark of the plan was the bars, restaurants and entertainment venues that would give the riverwalk its vibe. Even better, all or part of the riverwalk would be designated as a "common consumption area," the result of another new law that Glendale lobbied for in the state legislature. The law allows groups of businesses to apply to their local licensing authorities to be able to serve alcohol in to-go cups within a certain area.

Glendale officials had realized that many successful party destinations, such as Las Vegas and New Orleans, allow visitors to wander from bar to bar with a drink in their hand so that the revelry never has to stop. In order to change Colorado law to allow such a thing, city officials turned to state senator Pat Steadman, whose district includes Glendale.

Steadman introduced a bill in May 2011 to create common consumption areas. It was the last bill introduced in the Senate that year and lawmakers quickly approved it. Greeley was the first municipality to create one, and Denver is considering the idea now.

Glendale noted that accomplishment in its RTA application. It also highlighted other legislative achievements, including passing a state law in 2003 that allowed the city to annex land from Denver to make the eight-acre open-space Infinity Park South.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar