Michael Hancock recommends spreading Better Denver bonds to Boettcher, Red Rocks and more

Back in 2007, Denver residents voted for an alphabet soup of nine civic improvements. While almost all of those bond-backed Better Denver projects are done (with signs to prove it), much of the money from G and H, earmarked for maintenance and construction of cultural facilities, including an update of Boettcher Concert Hall, has gone unspent.

That's largely because H was focused on a project to replace Boettcher Concert Hall, a $90 million plan that required the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to raise $30 million of the total.That project was stalled by financial problems at the CSO -- and when the CSO started its comeback, the city lifted the matching-funds requirement. But that wasn't the only change.

The city also invited other cultural outfits to submit proposals for projects that would use G and H money, and a dozen did -- including the National Western Stock Show.

A Cultural Facilities Steering Committee reviewed the proposals, and yesterday, Mayor Michael B. Hancock recommended to Denver City Council which projects should receive the remaining cultural bond funds from the Better Denver Bond Program -- for a total of $57,126,000.

The Stock Show did not make the cut.

"Denver is consistently recognized for our high-quality cultural facilities that help uphold the spirit of our smart city. As the voters intended in 2007, these funds will help maintain and improve these cherished facilities," Hancock said in releasing the list. "We have focused the last remaining funds on advancing our facilities while staying true to the authorized intent of these critical investments."

Question G related to deferred maintenance for city-owned cultural facilities; $18,497,001 remained in the kitty. Question H related to financing the cost of new construction of city-owned cultural facilities; the amount remaining there is $38,629,205.

Here's how the proposed allocation breaks down:

Boettcher Concert Hall -- Improvements
$6,700,000 (from G)
$10,075,000 (from H)

Denver Performing Arts Complex -- Champa Street Bridge
$2,500,000 (from H)

Denver Art Museum -- Ponti Building
$3,000,000 (from H)

Denver Botanic Gardens -- Café & Restrooms and Science Pyramid
$6,619,000 (from H)

Denver Center for the Performing Arts -- Deferred Maintenance
$9,932,000 (from G)

Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo -- Parking
$4,400,000 (from H)

Levitt Pavilion Amphitheatre (Ruby Hill)
$2,000,000 (from H)

McNichols Building -- Improvements
$700,000 (from G)
$4,800,000 (from H)

Red Rocks Amphitheater -- Water Supply and Concession
$2,800,000 (from H)

TOTAL $53,526,000: $17,332,000 (from H), $36,194,000 (from G)

Stephanie O'Malley, deputy chief of staff, led the effort of the steering committee, which also included councilwoman Peggy Lehmann; George Delaney, COO of Denver Department of Public Works; Dorothy Horrell, president of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation; Gretchen Hollrah, deputy chief financial officer for Denver; Maja Rosenquist, vice president of Mortenson Construction; and Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Welborn.

As part of its comeback, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra got a new, high-profile artistic advisor. Read more in "The Colorado Symphony Orchestra welcomes Andrew Litton into the fold."

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I question the wisdom of giving more tax money to the Denver Botanic Gardens.  They are not satisfied with making beautiful gardens or with "connecting people with plants," which is their mission: they are on a rapid mission of expansion into other areas.  They already get some $8M+ per year of taxpayer funds and they use some of it to compete with private businesses.  They host financial investment seminars, bridal trade shows, concerts and yoga studios.  Just today in the Denver Post it was revealed that the Kaiser Permanente Foundation gave them a half million dollars two years ago (and more since) so they can compete with private farmers by selling vegetables from their tax-free, rent-free land.  Mayor Hancock wants to promote local farms but then he advocates giving more tax money to an expansive NGO with a serious case of mission creep that hurts the farms.   I won't be voting for the two tax hikes this fall; I think the money the city already raises is misspent. 

RobertChase topcommenter

If Denver were a "smart city" it would not have elected Michael Hancock!  Here is one advocate of the collective good who has been persuaded never to support the City's current political leadership.  If I had not seen Hancock blow a million dollars to suppress political dissent or had not become aware of the idiotic way Denver deals with the homeless, I might trust the City to spend tax (or bond) money wisely, but I so distrust it that I will vote against de-Brucing, even though I oppose TABOR.


I support public education, but the present administration of DPS is responsible for taking out a balloon mortgage on our obligation to pay retired teachers' pensions which has already cost taxpayers millions in unnecessary interest.  DPS is asking voters to approve almost fifty million dollars in new taxes and almost 500 million dollars more debt in the immediate aftermath of repeated scandals involving its falsification of students' academic achievement for the purpose of inflating the graduation rate, even as it has become clear (from the statistics regarding unqualified students being admitted into Colorado colleges and enrolled in remedial courses) that many or most graduates lack twelfth-grade skills.  The DPS administration's request of Denver's taxpayers to take on an enormous new obligation without so much as admitting its crisis of academic integrity, much less advancing any plan to restore it, evinces breathtaking arrogance and contempt for the intelligence of the voters.


Neither the Mayor nor Superintendent Boasberg can be trusted with the People's money.  Choose competent leaders who support responsible policies -- if they propose new taxes and debt, I will give them serious consideration, but to approve any of 2A, 3A, or 3B under the present regimes in the City and DPS would be to reward incompetence and failure, and to throw good money after bad.

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