BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
There is no more universally popular cause in our area than the beloved High Line Canal. Of its total 71 miles in length from Waterton Canyon in Douglas County almost to the Denver International Airport, 3 miles of the Canal are within the boundaries of Cherry Hills Village and 5 miles are within Greenwood Village.
After nine years of meeting regularly as a group of 25 to 30 people, the High Line Canal Working Group (HLCWG), formed in 2010 and comprised of Arapahoe County, Douglas County, the cities of Aurora, Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, Denver, Greenwood Village, and Littleton, along the Highlands Ranch Metropolitan District and the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, is making plans to start 2020 as a leaner and nimbler decision-making unit. That is the recommendation of its governance subcommittee that was presented at its regular quarterly meeting held on August 28 at Greenwood Village City Hall.
The governance subgroup expects that the HLCWG will adopt the plan at its next meeting on October 28 and that the new leadership committee will take over on December 4. The subgroup anticipates that someday in the future, there will be a single special district that will manage the High Line Canal after it has been fully transformed from a water utility into a purely recreational asset.
Subgroup members talked about their plan. One, Shannon Carter, Arapahoe County Open Spaces and Intergovernmental Relations Director, said formalized roles, clearly defined leadership, and intergovernmental agreements were important to making the transition. There was discussion, but no agreement, about how members of the new smaller group would be selected. Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe suggested that jurisdictions should choose their own representative to the new leadership team. Dave Bullock, GV city council member, said that some jurisdictions, like Greenwood Village, have taken better care of the HLC than others and “that point should be considered (when choosing leadership).”
There will be many internal discussions of the conversion plan within HLCWG-member jurisdictions over the next two months.History
In 2010, Arapahoe County formed the HLCWG to carry out its vision that the High Line Canal “be protected forever as an intimate treasure and continuous recreation experience along a historic, naturally scenic canal.”
Its statement of purpose said, “The HLCWG is a collaborative effort to secure funding for—and implement—projects that will help enhance and protect the unique recreation experience along the High Line Canal.”
On July 9, 2010 the HLCWG held its first regular meeting at Greenwood Village City Hall to discuss actions that it could take to achieve its goals, one of which was “to enhance the trail user’s experience through consistent and improved signage and mileage markers,” which is being actively worked on in 2019. Those meetings, begun in 2010, have continued through today.
In 2014, the High Line Canal Conservancy was formed as a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization “by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal.” In the years since then, the Conservancy has drawn the philosophical and financial support of hundreds of local citizens and local companies who support the preservation and natural enhancement of the High Line Canal. The HLC’s executive director, Harriet LaMair, has worked with the HLCWG since its inception. In 2018, the Conservancy raised $1.3 million, of which 76 percent was from “individual donations, foundation grants, special events and other” and 24 percent came from government.
Along with LaMair, Dirk McDermott, Board Chair of the High Line Canal Conservancy, attended the August 28 meeting of the HLCWG where the plan to move to a form of governance with a smaller group was discussed.
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