The crowded city council meeting about a proposal to construct an I-25 underpass at either Costilla Avenue or Alton Way generated more controversy in …
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The crowded city council meeting about a proposal to construct
an I-25 underpass at either Costilla Avenue or Alton Way generated
more controversy in and of itself.
The Sept. 14 public forum saw incidents in which some questioned
the propriety of city government operations and led to two
contentious reactions from elected officials.
District 3 Councilmember Rebecca McClellan, who has called the
Alton Way proposal a “bait and switch,” questioned whether a city
transportation adviser should only be working for city staff.
McClellan, the city’s representative on the Arapahoe
Road/Interstate 25 Interchange Coalition, had been taken aback by
the Alton proposal in a June presentation by Centennial Public
Works director Dave Zelenok.
At the most recent meeting, McClellan, who is up for re-election
in November, questioned the nature of senior transportation advisor
Mark Mehalko’s relationship with Zelenok and the city.
Mehalko is an employee of AECOM, one of Centennial’s public
works subcontractors. When quizzed by McClellan, he said he has
been advising city staff on the I-25/Arapahoe Road reconfiguration
since June of last year.
McClellan then complained that she had not known that Mehalko
was available as a resource to the council and the
intergovernmental coalition that includes Centennial, Arapahoe
County and the City of Greenwood Village.
“I am very sorry to say I was not made aware that I had access
to this help for the benefit of my citizens so that they would have
an empowered strategic voice in this process, and I’m troubled by
that,” McClellan said.
City Manager Jacque Wedding-Scott countered that the process is
open and that Mehalko has been a valuable asset for the city as it
has formulated plans for the I-25/Arapahoe interchange.
“Mark has been working directly with your public works director,
Dave Zelenok, who has been instrumental in working with the
coalition,” she said.
The second contentious moment happened during public comment, in
relation to a charge that an Alton Way underpass would reduce
property values and make residential areas near Arapahoe Road ripe
for commercial development.
Resident Erin Jones made allusion to Mayor Randy Pye’s day job
as a senior vice president for Capitol Solutions, a Denver-based
public-affairs and lobbyist firm that represents some clients in
the development community.
“We also have concerns about potential conflicts of interest
with regards to Mayor Pye and his positions as a public servant for
our community as well as in the development community,” Jones
The comment brought a strong rebuke from Pye, who challenged
Jones to substantiate her claim that he is a lobbyist for
developers. At his urging, she retracted the comment.
Pye’s biography on the city Web site says the mayor “leads the
local government practice [for Capitol Solutions] and works with
the development community in effectively moving through the local
government land-use process that creates a win-win for the
applicant and the community."
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