Lower Downtown District, Inc.

Guest Commentary

May 12, 2000

By Jerry J. Arca, St. Charles Neighborhood Group President and LoDo Resident
Living in a mixed-use community can certainly be a mixed bag.
But you know what? There's more good than bad-and that, I believe, is what keeps people coming to Lower Downtown to live.
For me, living in Lower Downtown fills out a lifelong desire to live in a downtown environment somewhere-to sample the pleasures of being close to everything, to look out our windows and see business storefronts, taxicabs, people going in every direction, busy restaurants, construction workers.
Since arriving downtown in 1994m I've found a good number of surprises, most of them good ones.
I've found an unexpected sense of community here. Just raise your hand once to volunteer on one of the many organizations in the neighborhood, and you are struck almost immediately by how easy it is to meet people with similar interests and passions about our community.
Another surprise is how responsive and caring our city government people are to the residents. I'm constantly amazed when I call our city council person, our police captain, and administrators in the planning department or the city's agency that regulates liquor licenses and find intelligent, knowledgeable, concerned people. They know their business. Hey care about the city. And, they relate to our issues.
But not all my surprises have been good ones.
I'm surprised when people tell me that a complaint from a resident about noise or public drunkenness or ugly canvas banners on our beautiful historic brick buildings is just so much whining from people who should have stayed in the suburbs.
I'm surprised when business owners forget that a healthy balance between the residential and the commercial segments in LoDo is what makes LoDo so attractive and unique.
Sure, there's a certain amount of tolerance we residents must bring to our chosen lifestyle in the city. We have to remind ourselves frequently that it's not going to be as quiet as it is in the suburbs. We have to remind ourselves frequently that we have no God-given right to plentiful and cheap parking for our dinner guests. We have to remind ourselves frequently that the young (and some of the old) are still learning how to handle all the alcohol that's available out there.
But where else can you step out your front door and hear-actually hear- the roar of the crowd from Coors Field and then walk another ten minutes an be lost in the solitude of the South Platte River tumbling over the boulders.
Nowhere else that I know.
This is home for me. I love it. And I, for one, am not going to sit quietly by and hope somebody else fixes the problems that pop up from time to time.
There's one more surprise I still experience. It's how easy it is to initiate dialogue with those whom you differ. I've sat across the table from a lot of people who wanted to do something I wasn't so sure was the right thing.
We've talked. We've argued. We've even gotten pretty passionate. Yet, in most cases, we've gotten some sort of resolution and moved on.
Not that the resolutions were perfect, but they engaged the people involved and they kept the idea alive, at least for me, that people of different views can work together.
Living the mixed-use lifestyle planners now call the "New Urbanism" is indeed a mixed bag. But it's a lifestyle I wouldn't trade for the world.

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