Transcript Wheat Ridge June 27, 2013 A Colorado Community Media Publication ourwheatridgenews.com Jefferson County, Colorado • Volume 30, Issue 1 50 cents And the winners are ... Look inside to find out who made Colorado Community Media’s list. Tax pitch aimed to bolster fund Ballot language in the works for pitch to voters By Vic Vela firstname.lastname@example.org Emma Cochenour says hi to Wendell, a 10-week-old goat, at the Five Fridges Farm in Wheat Ridge on June 21. Photos by Vic Vela Farm life grows in cityscape Property retains agricultural history By Vic Vela email@example.com Just down the street from a Starbucks coffee shop, and neighboring an apartment complex and an elementary school, sit 13 acres that are alive with activity that might seem unusual for the middle of Wheat Ridge. Veggies are growing, bees buzzing and chickens clucking at a place called the Five Fridges Farm on West 38th Avenue. “Most people’s association with urban farms is small backyard plots,” Steve Cochenour, who grows vegetables at the farm, said. “To be able to have this kind of production in the city I think really does surprise a lot of people. Like, ‘Wait this comes from right here? This comes from right down the street?’” It’s urban agriculture that’s being overseen by a city girl who picked up a hoe as a challenge. “I lived in the (Denver) Highlands for 12 years, and I never thought once about raising chickens,” said Amanda Weaver, a geography and environmental science instructor at the University of Colorado at Den- Steve Cochenour cuts and washes lettuce at the Five Fridges Farm in Wheat Ridge on June 21. Vic Vela ver, who purchased the property three years ago. “Farming was not my background. When the opportunity came up, it was just one of those things where I thought, ‘Sure, I’m gonna sell my house in the Highlands and buy this old farm in Wheat Ridge.’” The property has been oper- POSTAL ADDRESS ating as a farm since the early 1900s. It become known as the Williams Wildlife Preserve, named after the land’s former longtime owner, Ernestine Williams. Before her death in 1991, Williams sought protection for her property. She was able to do that by putting the land in a conservation easement. “Basically, this land cannot be subdivided or developed for purposes other than urban agriculture or nature preservation,” said Weaver, who is also a member of the city’s Planning Commission. Under Weaver’s management, Five Fridges offers fertile farming ground for independent business owners who lease different areas of the property. Among them is Kdubbs Agriculture, which operates a hops farm on Weaver’s land, supplying hops to home brewers and Colorado microbreweries. Cochenour grows organic table vegetables at the farm as part of his Clear Creek Organics business, a family-owned, first-generation farming group that specializes in communitysupported agriculture – where folks purchase memberships and pick up their shares of vegetables each week throughout the growing season. “Its a really ideal growing area,” Cochenour said. “We’re 10 minutes from downtown Denver, so that puts us in access Farm continues on Page 27 As the City Council ponders presenting a November ballot question that will ask Wheat Ridge voters to approve a sales tax increase, one of the challenges is deciding how to market the city’s need. Soon, ballot language will be crafted for a proposal that seeks a one-cent sales tax increase that is intended to beef up the city’s general fund. But the city needs to put a campaign message behind the tax measure. City staff know creating the message is going to be a challenge because the money won’t be earmarked for a specific project. “Most experts will tell you that ... it’s difficult to actually get something passed without at least messaging how you’re going to use the money,” said Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff, during a June 17 City Council study session. City officials acknowledge that it’s easier to build a campaign around getting voters to approve tax-increase measures that are tied to specific areas of focus, such as the building a recreation center or putting more money into the city’s law-enforcement needs. But this year’s ballot question will be different because it will ask voters to approve the penny increase to fund non-specific areas of capital improvement. Goff told council members at the study session that they need to consider “at least putting together some talking points” that will be used in an outside campaign effort aimed at driving support for the measure. “You can put together language that isn’t necessarily going to tie your hands,” Goff said. “But I think voters are going to want to have some idea of what your thoughts are on what the money is going to be spent on.” Council members brainstormed potential selling points that included highlighting the fact that property taxes will not be affected and that much of the money that will be generated from sales tax increases is expected to come from Wheat Ridge visitors. They also talked about how Wheat Ridge’s sales taxes are below those of neighboring cities and that the projected 2014 capital improvement funds are expected to fall short of what city officials believe are needed. “This is something that’s going to be shared by the people of our community,” said Councilwoman Kristi Davis. The council is expected to take up the issue of ballot language during an Aug. 5 study session, with a final council vote on the measure taking place at a regular council meeting later that month. ‘This is something that’s going to be shared by the people of our community.’ Councilwoman Kristi Davis Printed on recycled newsprint. Please recycle this copy.