Daily Camera guest opinion: Guest Leslie Durgin, Matt Appelbaum, Suzanne Jones, Will Toor and Sam Weaver: It's time to annex CU South: No on 302

·3 min read

Oct. 19—By Leslie Durgin, Matt Appelbaum, Suzanne Jones, Will Toor and Sam Weaver

One could say the story of the CU South property is a metaphor for the story of Boulder. Our past and our future. What we value as a community — or don't.

Do we value protecting our citizens from floods? Do we value open space, affordable housing and less in-commuting?

As four former mayors and the current mayor, we have been involved in discussions about flood mitigation and the future of CU South since the 1990s. Millions have been spent on study after study, which have shown the benefits of annexing the property into Boulder. It is abundantly clear that we have a responsibility to protect people from flooding without delay.

The time is now.

That is why we urge a NO vote on ballot question 302, a poison pill that is meant to stop annexation and the benefits that come along with it, a ballot initiative which hurts both the community and CU.

After the great flood of 2013, it became even more clear that the South Boulder Creek floodplain needed to be improved for the safety of everyone around. Question 302 threatens nearly 10 years of study and planning that makes this required flood mitigation possible.

Question 302 prioritizes unrealistic demands over the protection of life and safety of residents, and over the need for affordable housing in Boulder; it's passage would put the benefits contained in the annexation agreement at risk.

And the community benefits are many. To address Boulder's affordable housing crisis (driven in part by high demand from students and faculty) CU is proposing to build 1,100 new housing units and 110 units for Boulder residents. This would reduce in-commuting and thus vehicle traffic. Providing housing for faculty, staff and students is good for the university and for the broader community.

As part of the annexation agreement, CU is giving the community 80 acres for flood control, offering 119 acres for open space, and enhancing environmental protections on this property. However, every delay, such as this ballot measure, puts those benefits at risk and leaves residents in danger next time it floods.

Let us not forget that if the city doesn't annex the property, CU can sell it to anyone it chooses. Boulder citizens risk losing community access to the land for dog walking/bird watching and hiking. This is not good for Boulder's future — nor CU.

Boulder has a question before it, not just about a piece of property, but about what it values as a community. The time has come to prepare for Boulder's future and to create a stronger partnership with the university. As the current and four former mayors we believe annexation is the wise and prudent course of action for both the City of Boulder and CU.

What we do, or don't do, with CU South will tell a story about Boulder and it will be a metaphor for our community. Now is the time for action on annexation. Vote No on 302.

Leslie Durgin, Matt Appelbaum, Suzanne Jones and Will Toor are former mayors of Boulder and Sam Weaver is the current Boulder Mayor.

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