Golden activists: Just don't
By Stacie Oulton - Denver Post Staff Writer
GOLDEN - Just don't do it. That's the message a group of Golden residents has for Nike, the Oregon-based sneaker giant reportedly considering building an 800-acre complex atop South Table Mountain. Opponents turned in 1,000 signatures to the Golden City Council this week protesting the idea of a Nike campus on the site. The critics also plan to give the petitions to Gov. Roy Romer. "We want to send a message to Nike and to the government officials in the county and the state," said Don Parker, one of the Golden residents who gathered the signatures. "We don't want it." Golden residents have fought for years to preserve South Table Mountain as open space. South Table and its twin mesa, North Table Mountain, stand on Golden's eastern flank, blocking the town from the rest of the metro area. "I think that piece of turf should be sacrosanct," said Portia Masterson, member of Friends of the Mesa formed to fight Nike. "They (the mesas) are inspiration for people who live near them. It gives a great sense of tranquility for the metro area." The petitions came in response to disclosure by state officials that South Table Mountain is the favored site among those the company has scouted along the Front Range. Nike has looked at sites in Broomfield, Arvada, Lakewood and Colorado Springs. Nike is looking in four Western states and British Columbia to build a facility for 5,000 employees, and officials say no decision has been made. "We're aggressively looking at sites in all five jurisdictions," said Lee Weinstein of Nike. "If we're not able to find a site that is suitable, we will go back to the drawing board and open up the number of states we're looking at. "We're not headed anywhere soon," the spokesman added. But the critics timed the petitions to coincide with the Super Bowl weekend, when the Nike swoosh on Denver Broncos uniforms is on people's minds, said petition organizer Judy Denison. The city of Golden could be just as cool about Nike. City Manager Mike Bestor said the city doesn't intend to offer Nike any significant monetary incentives to come to town. Instead, the city will work to ensure that if Nike comes, there is some benefit to Golden residents. If Nike builds in Colorado, the company is expected to pump $12 million in taxes into the economy over five years. John Dill, the director of Colorado's economic development office, who has had direct conversations with Nike representatives, said Nike has not come begging for huge enticements. He repeated that Nike has made no decision about a site. But he said South Table Mountain is "fairly high on the list to explore." Dill said he doubted that the residents' petition would have much impact on Nike's decision because big companies recognize that community opposition is often just part of the process when a major facility is built. "They (Nike) have a very good reputation of giving back to the community in which they reside," Dill said. I think they are going to be very, very sensitive to whatever location they choose." There are other obstacles to building on South Table Mountain, such as insufficient roads and other infrastructure. But residents are most concerned about the loss of open space. The view of the mesas is an important part of the county's mountain backdrop, and it will be damaged with a big factory in the middle of it, critics said. "There's no chance of reclaiming it if Nike builds there," Denison said.
Guest Column - "Golden Transcript" 2/27/98
"I will not deny anyone due process"
by Jan Schenck
This column is solely my comments and observations. It is not representative of my fellow council persons. We (council) allow and respect each others' individual opinion. After reading all the hearing rumors, I feel it is time I express my position about the perceived issue of South Table Mountain.
First, I cannot respond to anything of substance without a plan being before the council. Second, they (the group which even has a few attorneys involved) seem bound and determined that we should commit publicly to a statement that would throw us all into the courts and violate due process deserved by the landowners and the buyer (if there is one). Third, my belief has always been and will continue to be that every person deserves the opportunity to receive a fair and impartial hearing or judgment.
I am sure you would want a fair and impartial process if your home or land was at jeopardy. Would you be willing to give up your front yard for a wider street without due process or just compensation?
In the 10 years I have been serving on council we have always gone far beyond what is required to hear both sides of an issue and have even allowed at times a strong minority voice to help us in forming our decisions, but not without heating all sides of an issue. The opportunity for fairness for everyone is in the process. Let's not remove that opportunity by denying either side their right guaranteed by our laws.
The group "Just Don't Do It" would have us deny people their rights. And that to me is outrageous. I will not deny you or any person their rights. They would have you believe that landowners should either give away their property or sell to Open Space (possibly against their desires) all out of the kindness of their hearts. I ask you, if land was part of your family's future and your hard work, would you give it away?
Yes, we all contribute to Open Space, but now that doesn't seem to be enough. Why is it that a group such as Just Don't Do It can't focus their energy in doing this community and themselves a positive service? Why is it they have not stuck it out all these years and sought funding through the feds, the state, the county, foundations or put more pressure on Jeffco Open Space or even worked out a reasonable land trade? Why is it all they want to do is expend energy threatening city staff and accusing everyone of wrong-doings? What has this group done to present a positive solution to the landowners or owners to make purchase or trade of this land possible? Where has this group been since the last concern they had was a mining operation?
I have always encouraged volunteerism. Since I was old enough to flip pancakes and go door-to-door, I have been associated with or worked with many non-profit organizations. I associated with these groups because they chose to have a positive impact on our communities and societies in which they serve.
But, being a volunteer carries with it responsibility. A true volunteer, a genuinely concerned citizen, is willing to come forward and be part of the day-to- day process. He stays informed. He stays involved. He concerns himself with facts instead of rumors and takes the time to find out the differences. He seeks ongoing solutions. He doesn't just show up every four or five years with special interest groups to condemn others for how things are handled.
My response: As long as I am on council, council and staff will continue to represent the city and its citizens to the best of their ability and within the laws of this great nation. I will not deny you or anyone their right to due process. I will continue to look after the city in a professional and ethical manner. And, I will continue to listen to all the citizens including the group.
I would not presume to know the answers to my questions, and that is why I won't answer on someone else's behalf. Now with all this said, I feel much better.
Jan Schenck is the mayor of Golden.
(excerpts from a five-page JEC document)
"...This project is fully supported by Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Public School District. Both have agreed to rebate 50 percent of Nike's personal property tax for four years for any site that is chosen in Jefferson County...."
"...The State of Colorado is also supportive of development and has agreed to help negotiate any necessary land acquisition from the other governmental agencies that own land on top of South Table Mountain...."
"...Rezoning can occur whether the property is unincorporated or not. However, the City of Golden feels that by annexing South Table Mountain into the city, the rezoning effort may be easier because the local constituency is much smaller...."
Mesa fears eased
Official, citizens discuss Nike site
By Stacie Oulton - Denver Post Staff Writer
GOLDEN - Nike's preference to build on South Table Moun tain is "troublesome," a Jefferson County commissioner told more than 50 members of "Save The Mesas," a citizens group formed to thwart development on the mesa at the entrance to Golden.
Commissioner John Stone, one of several who met with the group, said he would prefer that Nike build on hundreds of open acres around the Jefferson County Airport, one of five Jeffco sites local economic development officials pitched to the sportswear giant for its proposed 5,000- employee corporate campus.
Commission Chairwoman Michelle Lawrence added that the commissioners were "stunned" to learn South Table Mountain was on the table.
"My only remark was, 'Are you out of your mind?'" Lawrence said she told local and state economic development officials. I thought they were crazy."
Commissioner Pat Holloway said the greatest concern was the impact of 5,000 employees driving to the top of the mesa.
"That's a huge impact," she said.
Reservations welcomeArmed with bumper stickers and wearing yellow buttons calling for South Table Mountain to be saved for open space, member of Save The Mesas were pleased to hear the commissioners' reservations. They had requested the Monday meeting with the commissioners because the county could be asked to give rezoning approval if Nike were to choose South Table Mountain. Nike could also ask Golden or another neighboring jurisdiction to annex and rezone that land.
The commissioners' comments were reinforced by their stance that they have not made a decision on Nike since they have not received a written request from Nike to build the facility in the county.
"We really don't have a position on Nike," Lawrence said. "If we ever, as a board, have something come through...we have to take a look. We have to listen to both sides, or all sides."
Nike spokesman Lee Weinstein said again Monday that the company has not ruled out Colorado or made any decision of where it wants to build the new corporate campus, expected to come on line after 2000.
"They are still on our list," Weinstein said. "We are still looking at sites in Colorado. We are looking intently in New Mexico."
Considering other sitesNike is also considering sites in Washington, Nevada and British Columbia. The shoe company giant decided to look outside its home state of Oregon because it is "not in our best interest to have everyone centralized in one state, in one particular economy, one particular political situation," Weinstein said.
The company first screened locations based on corporate tax codes. Now the company is sorting through development costs, the quality of schools, access to highways and other issues.
"We've got to make sure we're going to a place where our employees want to be," he said. "We have not been able to nail down a site where all the factors converge and make it right."
The commissioners reiterated that new jobs are needed, despite calls from the Save The Mesas group that government-driven economic development is no longer needed because the county and state are at full employment.
"We recognize people need jobs and virgin land may need to be broken," said Doug Ohmans, a member of Save The Mesas.
But South Table Mountain is an inappropriate spot given its important to the physical and emotional heritage of Golden and the county, he said.