What Centennial wants: Residents talk desired changes

Ahead of election, citizens generally satisfied, but roads and transportation a concern

Posted 9/19/17

Ranked in various surveys as among the best places to live, best places to raise a family, best for business, best in safety — Centennial has stacked up a mountain of accolades in recent years.

And in interviews with residents from throughout …

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What Centennial wants: Residents talk desired changes

Ahead of election, citizens generally satisfied, but roads and transportation a concern

Posted

Ranked in various surveys as among the best places to live, best places to raise a family, best for business, best in safety — Centennial has stacked up a mountain of accolades in recent years.

And in interviews with residents from throughout the city of 110,000 people, the satisfaction was apparent, especially with parks and trails. But a few issues — namely, traffic and transportation — still jump hot off residents' tongues when asked what they want changed about Centennial.

The Centennial Citizen spoke to residents from all four city council districts — from South Broadway to East Smoky Hill Road — to see what's on their minds before the November election, when voters will be choosing a new mayor and casting ballots in four city council races.

Traffic on the mind

“The traffic is lousy; you can't get anywhere,” said Clint Walker, 74, who lives near East Smoky Hill Road and South Tower Road, a District 4 location. “Need more planning on the streets, or else it'll get overrun.”

Some mentioned congestion around Interstate 25, but the traffic uptick spreads further than that. According to the city of Centennial's traffic data, average daily traffic has increased between roughly 3,000 and 6,000 cars per day at points on several major thoroughfare areas from 2008-16.

Examples include Arapahoe Road near Parker Road, Smoky Hill Road near Buckley Road, Broncos Parkway just off Parker Road, University Boulevard near Arapahoe Road and County Line Road near Yosemite Street. Traffic did decrease at other points, and in some cases, 2015 traffic was higher than in 2016.

Some areas saw large drops — Arapahoe Road just east of Parker Road saw about a 17,000 car decrease since 2009 — while others saw larger increases. Buckley Road just south of Smoky Hill Road saw about a 24,000 car spike since 2008.

East Arapahoe Road is crowded, but Centennial is a safe community and “we're pretty satisfied,” said Brooke Rebstock, 33, as she watched her daughter on the soccer field at the Cherry Creek Soccer Complex near South Jordan Road.

Rebstock, who grew up in Centennial, said she can't think of any complaints.

“I just avoid (Interstate) 25 and Arapahoe,” said Rebstock, a District 2 resident in the area of South Holly Street and East Dry Creek Road.

Lynnette Horner, 53, a District 1 resident in the Highlands 460 neighborhood, said traffic is her foremost problem, but said “that's a larger I-25 issue.”

Laying down new streets

Marion Collins, a District 4 resident who lives near Regis Jesuit High School, said the roadwork in the city is the issue most on her mind.

“They did a good job (on East Arapahoe Road), but some side streets (need more work),” said Collins, 61. “I've seen a lot of ... good development, more neighborhood and (road) construction ... For growing families, it's a nice place to live.”

Jill Ellsworth sat alongside a kids' soccer team event in deKoevend Park and said population growth is “obviously a huge issue, but (the city) is managing it well.”

“I haven't noticed it, I guess,” said Ellsworth, who lives near East Dry Creek Road and South Holly Street, an area near districts 2 and 3. She's 43 and has lived in Centennial for 14 years.

The streets are better taken care of lately, both large and neighborhood streets, she said.

“They redid all our sidewalks in the neighborhood,” Ellsworth said. “They could adjust the (timing) on the streetlights.”

Emily Gibson, 40, talked about construction as she sat reading in Centennial Center Park as her son played.

“Construction on Arapahoe is driving me crazy, but that's it,” said Gibson, a District 3 constituent living near I-25 and East Arapahoe Road.

The city's getting more crowded, she said, but she doesn't have an issue with that.

“The parks and trails are great, obviously,” she said. “I love those.”

More public transportation

Tina Kingery, a Centennial resident in the Hidden Hills neighborhood, said public transportation improvements should be a priority.

“I think we could do a better job of promoting mass transit,” said Kingery, 64. She said bus stops along East Dry Creek Road and East Arapahoe Road need more shelter because they're “always filled with snow” in the winter.

“If you're a person who wants to reduce your carbon footprint, you (can't),” said Kingery, who lives in District 1 near South University Boulevard.

Brittine Young, new to Colorado, had praise for the bus system.

“Buses are laid out a lot better than in Florida,” said Brittine Young, 17, sitting at the RTD Park-n-Ride at East Smoky Hill Road and South Picadilly Road, a District 4 location. Young recently moved to the area and said she didn't know much about it, but she likes the views and the schools.

Accessibility

Centennial needs “more access to parks for changing demographics,” said Walker, who has lived in the Centennial area since 1979. For “people with difficulty walking” and who need a wheelchair, trails could be more accessible, he said.

Walker, who attended an open house meeting about Centennial's upcoming 2017 Trails and Recreation Plan, suggested accommodating the older population in the city.

“I think a lot of people at this juncture want to stay in their homes as long as they can,” Walker said. “I think if they had more access, they'd enjoy (the parks and trails) more.”

Brad Rose, who lives near South University Boulevard and East Mineral Avenue, a District 1 area, said he feels much safer than when he used to live at East 17th Avenue and Xanthia Street in northeast Denver.

“I haven't seen one car chase end in gunshots here — I saw people arrested in front of my (old) house all the time,” said Rose, 38, who said he moved to the area partly so his children could go to Littleton Public Schools like he did.

He said he's happy, and didn't have any qualms about the city.

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