Boulder’s Civic Area Plan

June 30, 2012

In 1905, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., graced Boulder with a city master plan that included parks and open spaces for the first time. He suggested further that the Boulder Creek flood plain be preserved as parkland. Now it is the heart of our civic center. The civic area plan will determine the appropriate mix and location of uses downtown near our Creek.

Public services and the city and county employees who provide them should remain where they are. We can’t afford to hollow out downtown or diminish its vibrancy by relocating folks protected by one of the most robust flood warning systems in the country to avoid a once in every hundred years event, the immediate effects of which may persist for only a couple of days.

The civic area — 9th to 17th, Arapahoe to Canyon — is an opportunity zone for public/private partnership in the creation of civic amenities (enhanced farmer’s market, museums, and affordable housing, to name a few). Conversion of Canyon into a Parisian-style boulevard with through lanes and frontage streets (preferably, woonerfs) can help stitch SoDA and the Downtown Mall together by creating a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Finally, the recently announced sole-sourced Boulder Public Library (BPL) architectural renovation effort should stop! Public libraries have been civic information centers and citizen crossroads for thousands of years. A redesigned and repurposed BPL will be a critical link in the armature around which our future civic area must be formed.

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