Should the city borrow $450 million and spend it on this stuff? You’ll get to decide this fall.

These general obligation bonds will pay for things like a new arena at the National Western Center, two new libraries and buildings things out like sidewalks.
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The National Western complex and Xcel Energy’s Cherokee Generating Station seen from the historic Denver Union Stock Yard Exchange Building, Sept. 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver voters will get a say on whether to let the city borrow millions of dollars to pay for construction projects over the next few years.

Denver City Council on Monday voted in favor of sending five measures to the November ballot, asking voters whether to approve a collective $450 million in general obligation bonds. The money will pay for public projects, including new libraries in Globeville and Westwood, a new park in University Hills, and sidewalk construction throughout the city.

Overall, the money will fund more than 80 individual projects, which the city believes will help create 7,580 jobs and $1 billion in economic output. The city has framed the request as a step toward Denver's pandemic recovery.

The questions facing voters will center around five major categories:

  • Facilities ($104 million)
  • Housing and shelter ($38.6 million)
  • Transportation ($63.3 million)
  • Parks and recreation ($54 million)
  • National Western Center campus facilities ($190 million)

The last item came after council members asked that two National Western Center projects -- a new 10,000-capacity arena and renovations to the 1909 Building -- be separated from the facilities category, so people would be able to weigh in on those specific ideas. The proposal has been a major point of contention for lawmakers and for some people in Elyria Swansea.

Support is varied. A public hearing last week was filled with residents who said they did not want the money used to build a new arena, but there was support from other residents and officials with Colorado State University and the National Western Stock Show. Both have a financial stake in the development of the National Western Center, where the arena would be located.

Councilmember Candi CdeBaca, who represents the district where the new arena would be located, voted against sending the five measures to voters. Council members Paul Kashmann, Robin Kniech and Amanda Sandoval joined CdeBaca in voting against sending the measure asking voters for money for the National Western Center facilities; the three voted in support of moving the other four measures forward.

This fall's vote will mark the first time in four years that voters will be asked to borrow money for city projects with these kinds of bonds. Voters decided to let the city borrow more than $900 million in 2017, which the city is still paying back.

You can click here to get a full list of all the projects that would be paid for by the general obligation bonds.

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