Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Boettcher, Better Denver Bond, Cultural Facilities, The National WesternStock Show

In 2007, Denver voters approved a massive bond issuance, the Better Denver bond Program, $550 Million worth of projects. The Program was presented and sold as a complete package – The Better Denver Bond Program - but voters actually needed to vote on each part of the package individually. They were listed on the ballot as 1B, 1C, 1D, etc. Of particular importance to the arts community were 1G and 1H which dealt with cultural facilities.

The entire package passed.

1G and 1H provide $60 Million for deferred maintenance and or new construction for cultural facilities that included but were not limited to Boettcher Concert Hall and the Museum of Nature and Science.

1H contemplated a public/private component – private funds were to be raised and then matched by bond funds for each particular project. In the case of Boettcher, there was to be $25 Million in private funds raised.

That did not happen and so the planned demolishment and reconstruction of the Concert Hall also did not happen.

Of the $60 Million in authorized bond funds, $57 Million remains. The bonds have not been issued but the authorization is there and the bonds could be issued at any time for use on a project that would fit under the terms of the original bond authorization.

So what is happening now?

The city proposes to use that bonding capacity for the improvement of city cultural facilities. Proposals have been solicited from cultural facilities for maintenance or construction projects. A review committee will evaluate those proposals and forward recommendations to the Mayor.

Among the entities invited to submit a proposal is the National Western Stock Show.
That should get some eyebrows raised.

It is clear that the National Western Complex has some serious maintenance and capitol construction needs, but given the course of events over the last 18 months regarding the National Western and its relationship with Denver, before any (more) bond money should be sunk into that complex, the future of the Stock Show, its relationship with Denver, the ownership of the facilities has to be dealt with. That is probably not going to be resolved anytime in the foreseeable future.

Given the serious needs of other cultural facilities in Denver, it seems to me that other ‘city’ facilities should be a much higher priority.

The Review Committee will meet on August 24 to do an initial evaluation of the proposals that come in.

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