NDDA Accelerates NedPed Project

Pam North – Nederland

The Nederland Downtown District Authority (NDDA) convened on Tues. evening, Sept. 18, 2013, at the Community Center.

nederland-bus-stationGreg Ching, founder of the Solar Greens Company, presented an informational video entitled “Charge Ahead Colorado – Nederland Economic Development via Electric Vehicle Charging”, which put forth the premise that electric vehicle drivers return to stores having charging stations three times as frequently as non-electric vehicle drivers, and often spend twice as long in stores, spending more money. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has announced funding for electric vehicle supply equipment to pay 80% of the cost up to $6,260 per station. The application deadline is October 1, 2013. Transitioning to electric vehicles helps keep money in the local economy. Ching urged the DDA board to support the installation of electrical charging stations in Nederland, and to opt for the Level 2 outlet.

A level I outlet would be good only for electric bikes and motorcycles, so at least a level 2 outlet would be more desirable. Charging can be free or offered at $1.00 per hour ($0.80 cost to the Town). The Board’s response was to pursue the idea of allocating approximately $2,000 in the 2014 budget for two electric vehicle charging stations.

A presentation of LiDAR technology/survey was given by Lex Ivy. LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. The term LiDAR comes from the words light and radar. LiDAR may be used effectively to make high-resolution maps, with such applications as contour mapping, geology, geography, forestry, atmospheric research, and meteorology. Use of LiDAR can be more cost-effective than surveying as a good tool for the Town of Nederland to obtain needed information,

Katrina Harms gave a report on her recent attendance at the annual Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) conference which took place Sept. 10-13 in Grand Junction. DCI is a nonprofit organization committed to building  better communities by providing assistance to Colorado downtowns, commercial districts, and town centers, and helping local governments in their efforts to support small businesses and grow a sustainable economy. Harms mentioned many of the topics that had been part of the conference, and highlighted those she felt would be appropriate for Nederland to utilize.

The Board discussed sending an official notification to the Nederland Board of Trustees of the recent resignation of NDDA member Donna Sue Kirkpatrick, with the subsequent advertisement for her replacement on the NDDA board. The Board voted unanimously to pursue that course of action. Kirkpatrick had tendered verbally her resignation from the board to Town Administrator Alisha Reis on July 17, 2013, but had not done so in writing directly to the NDDA board. It also was agreed that Mary Ann Rodak-Friedman, also a member of the NDDA board, would be asked about her intentions regarding remaining on the board, as she has missed several meetings. The NDDA board places importance on retaining its 7-member board to help ensure a quorum for voting on issues. The bylaws for the Downtown District Authority are specific that members with three unexcused absences may be removed from the board.

Conor Merrigan of C2 Sustainability, was on hand to present the latest information on the NedPed project. NedPed (Nederland Pedestrian Enhancement Design) is a project focusing on providing safe, non-vehicular connections from the current downtown area to the area between the post office and the library. It will enhance that corridor through storm water management, landscaping, pedestrian amenities, provide for the installation of additional crosswalks and other features, for the benefit of economic development and sustainability. The project is adjacent to North Beaver Creek, and will facilitate the quality of the creek corridor. One of the most significant aspects of the project is the creation of a system for cleaning and infiltrating storm water. As opposed to traditional street and path design where the surface material is laid over compacted dirt,  this system will allow for infiltration through a gravel medium. It is hoped that this will help with the flooding issues  and clean up the water that goes into the stream and reservoir.

The NedPed project recently has completed a cost estimating and value engineering process using the 90% design as the basis. While the project has managed to significantly cut the gap between the desired project and the budget, the numbers still are presenting challenges, and a number of items have been cut in order to preserve the integrity of the water treatment system while also keeping the walkability and multimodal components. The largest challenge to date is the inclusion of the concrete sidewalks. Once the project is trimmed, the project remains approximately $40,000 over budget. As a $66,000 item, the concrete sidewalks are an item for discussion; however, the recommendation of the design team and sustainability team is to  proceed to construction bidding with the concrete sidewalks intact and see where the bids  come in. This is in line with one of the basic tenants of sustainability, which is that projects with initial higher costs often have a much greater positive economic impact  in the long run. While hard numbers or projections on keeping the street as a distinctive and functional stormwater conveyance and infiltration project will result in specific economic benefits, it is believed that such would be the case. Going to bid early could be in the Town’s favor.

A number of modifications and alternate options for possible inclusion in the project may be possible if the budget and/or the Town find additional funds. The original schematic level estimate of a more traditional drainage and conveyance system also is included. All options will be discussed by the Board of Trustee members at various boards. The NedPed project ultimately has two goals, one  of which CDOT and DRCOG share: 1) to create a functional multimodal pathway to connect the Park’n’ Ride to the post office; and 2) to address the stormwater overflow issues along Second Street. This project is attempting to combine the two as sustainably as possible with a limited budget, which is challenging. CDOT also will need to approve the project. Because drainage issues have raised costs to a higher level than was originally anticipated, some alternatives have been suggested to bring the NedPed project closer to the original budget while preserving the sustainability of the plan. Options being considered to cut costs are: 1) reclassify the porous detention areas from landscaping to gravel; 2) reclassify the native landscape areas as gravel; 3) reduce the depth of the gravel layer to the minimum necessary; 4) change the concrete driveway entrances from concrete to gravel; 5) remove the geotextile fabric;  6) downsize the piping from 18” to 12”; and 7) include the spur streets as options instead of as part of the base project. The Board discussed the questions of postponing the project or accelerating the time-frame by putting it to bid immediately in order to avoid the risk of higher costs that might result from delaying putting the project out to bid. The Board agreed unanimously to accelerate the time-line.

The next regular meeting of the NDDA is scheduled for Wed., Oct. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Nederland Community Center.