A year of change, controversy and community support

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Part 1 of Evergreen year in review

By Sandy Barnes

From political transitions to upheaval over proposed projects, Evergreen experienced a dynamic and controversial year in 2012.

Redistricting changed the political landscape of the community, resulting in representation in Congressional District 2 by a liberal Democrat from Boulder. The November elections that resulted in a Democratic majority in the state legislature created a challenge for Republican House District 25 Rep. Cheri Gerou.

The Evergreen Fire Protection District became embroiled in controversy over plans to build a fire training facility at Fire Station 2 in Bergen Park.

On the edge of the community, another debate raged among residents who were upset with approved plans to expand a church on Lookout Mountain.

Throughout the year, Evergreen residents rallied around misfortunes suffered by their neighbors in the Lower North Fork Fire with fund-raisers and donations. The charitable community also contributed to Evergreen Christian Outreach and families in need of assistance and support.

Positive changes made their way into the Evergreen Park and Recreation District with improvements at Evergreen Lake Park and the Wulf Recreation Center.

After years of planning and effort, a community garden project of the Evergreen Alliance for Sustainability received approval from the park district board.

The year also provided many happy moments for residents who attended traditional events including the Dam Ducky Derby, Big Chili Cook-off and the summer Jazz Festival with its delightful sounds.

On the animal front, a lost cow, forlorn goose and school-bound bear piqued the interest of Evergreen residents in 2012.


Activation Ministries expansion provokes lawsuit

The county commissioners’ approval of a plan to expand the Activation Ministries church from 9,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet prompted a lawsuit filed by Lookout Mountain residents in April.

Since the proposal first surfaced in May 2011, homeowners living near the church property had voiced concerns about increases in traffic and noise, declining property values and impaired scenic views.

Pastor Dave and Dee Dee Thompson of Activation Ministries said they wanted to be able to serve more people through the expansion, which would accommodate 600 people. 

During the Jeffco commissioners’ hearing on a special-use permit for the project in February, 29 people testified in favor of it, and 46 said they were opposed.

Commissioners John Odom and Don Rosier voted to approve the expansion, and Commissioner Faye Griffin dissented.

Griffin said she voted no because of the Jeffco planning staff’s recommendation against the expansion on the grounds that the large building would be incompatible with the community of mostly single-family homes on large lots. Rosier said the church had been in the community for 20 years and that it was an issue of property rights. Odom said that Rockland Community Church is only a mile away and that the Activation Ministries expansion was perfectly legal.

The 29 plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that additional traffic could impede firefighter response in the event of a wildland fire in the area, and that the proposal does not meet the standards of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Master Plan.


Polis wins in redrawn CD2

Boulder Democrat Jared Polis will now represent Evergreen, having been re-elected to a third term of office in the redrawn 2nd Congressional District last month.

Redistricting in late 2011 transferred Evergreen and Conifer from District 6 — represented by Republican Mike Coffman — to District 2.

Early this year, Polis began campaigning in Evergreen, which was traditionally dominated by Republican voters before the redistricting.

The second openly gay man to be elected as a freshman to Congress, Polis waged a successful campaign against Republican opponent Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud.

Polis captured 55 percent of the vote in the election. However, Lundberg had a stronger showing in Jefferson County.

During his campaign, Polis stressed the importance of education, which he views as a way out of poverty. He also supported the Dream Act and immigration reform. 

Balancing the federal budget and a 4.5 percent tax increase for people earning more than $1 million a year were also among Polis’ expressed goals.

While visiting Evergreen in September, Polis said he favored elimination of special-interest loopholes and other credits favoring wealthy business owners. He also discussed the Respect for Marriage Act, which he originally co-sponsored.

Polis has served as co-chairman of the LGBT equality caucus that focuses on human rights protections.

He is a Boulder native and Princeton graduate who has started several Internet companies, including bluemountainarts.com, which sold for $780 million.

He founded the Jared Polis Foundation and two charter schools for at-risk students. 

Polis and his partner of nine years recently adopted an infant son.


Gerou’s third term in state legislature looking different

House District 25 Rep. Cheri Gerou is facing a vastly changed political landscape in her third term of office.

Republican Gerou won the contest against Democratic challenger Lorna Idol in the November elections. However, she is now on the minority side of the state House, which has shifted to a Democratic majority. 

For the past two years, Georu had played a key role as chairman of the Joint Budget Committee. She was the first woman from the House to serve in this role.

Her new position on the JBC is as a minority member.

Describing herself as a moderate, Gerou based her campaign on a record of fiscal responsibility. Opponent Idol, who has an extensive background in education, called for increased educational services and assistance for impoverished youngsters while campaigning against Gerou.

While looking to the coming legislative session, Gerou said she would like to trim state expenditures in the Medicaid program in order to direct more funds toward education.

Gerou also said she would support a civil-unions bill to provide protection for children of same-sex couples.

The expenses associated with wildland fires and their devastating effects on residents are also an area of focus for Gerou. Earlier this year, she worked to have wildland fire management transferred from the state college system to the Department of Public Safety. Gerou also sponsored a bill that provided a mechanism for underinsured residents whose homes were destroyed in the Lower North Fork fire to apply for state assistance.

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.