Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force
By Amy Reinholds
Graduate students from a summer class with Carrie Makarewicz and Andrew Rumbach of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver will be assisting the Town of Lyons and the volunteer Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force (HRTF) with analysis and plans. By the end of class on July 24,
they will have created a housing site alternatives analysis and a public engagement plan.
Also by early August, it is expected that the Town will have hired a housing coordinator with grant money distributed by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. This new housing coordinator will work directly for the Town of Lyons and will be responsible for coordinating with a housing site study of Town-owned parcels for new flood replacement housing sites, with the master developer that wins the bid for developing new housing, and with the Lyons HRTF volunteers, which the Board of Trustees has requested should assist with public engagement.
The timeframe for the Town hiring professional consultants with other grant monies might also align with the month of August. The consultants will conduct a housing site study of all Town-owned parcels, including a suggested land swap with the St. Vrain Valley School District for the current practice fields, in exchange for other adjacent park/recreational land that the Town owns.
As a prerequisite for the Town of Lyons requesting the $2.4 million for the first round of the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, which the Board of Trustees voted to pursue at a May 5 meeting, the Town needed to have potential housing parcels under control. After the grants are distributed, whatever amount Lyons is granted for housing recovery must be spent within two years, or it is lost. The Board of Trustees directed the Town Staff to hire a team of professional consultants to conduct the necessary detailed pre-development analysis of parcels. The Trustees voted to select parcels for the analysis that are currently owned by the Town, focusing on the current dog park, the parcel south of the dog park, and other parts of Bohn Park that are not in the floodplain. The St. Vrain Valley School District-owned parcel where the ball fields are currently located was also listed as a possibility for a swap with other Town-owned parcels. Several Trustees expressed the need to have all of these parcels included in the analysis from the hired consultant team, in order to find the best options for locations of possible replacement housing with minimal impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, also considering road access. For more background on the housing recovery decisions made by the Board of Trustees, see www.lyonsrecovery.com/housing-task-force.html.
The CU Denver graduate students’ public engagement plan will give the Board and the task force some ideas to consider for public engagement, including identifying the wide range of stakeholders in Lyons who should be engaged about their concerns for new replacement housing for displaced residents and homeowners who participate in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program buyout.
The graduate students also will create a site alternatives analysis, which will illustrate potential housing configurations and access patterns on the proposed sites. The analysis will informally give some ideas of what the new replacement housing could look like in various locations that the Board of Trustees decided to consider, keeping in mind locations, access, and housing types that have the least impact on surrounding neighborhoods and other resident concerns. This informal plan will supplement the professional housing site study expected by the hired consultant team later in the summer.
The HRTF will meet with the CU Denver graduate students at the task force meeting on Tuesday, July 15, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Town Hall. The HRTF will also have an agenda item to report to the Board of Trustees and get more direction on the next steps for public engagement on Monday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
As public engagement regarding housing recovery unfolds, the HRTF wants to emphasize again that the process is a transparent and open forum for the whole town to participate in. The decisions are difficult and complex, requiring extensive research and analysis. The public input received will help the Board of Trustees make the best decisions about housing recovery. The ultimate goal is for the Board of Trustees to pursue a plan that ensures that Lyons thrives in a sustainable, prosperous manner.