Englewood’s location, engaged community, diverse economy, and proximity to Denver are all positives, but the community has faced significant challenges in the last several years. Namely, the city has struggled to fund infrastructure improvements to deal with aging stormwater systems. COVID-19 and racial tensions in 2020 presented a new set of challenges which exposed the need for increased focus on underserved populations and more robust diversity and inclusion initiatives. The plans and projects featured in Englewood’s application show how the city has partnered with residents, the non-profit sector and the business community to address these challenges.
Inclusive Police Reform
In response to the George Floyd tragedy, Mayor Olson signed the Mayor’s Pledge to Reimagine Policing, developed by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, that asks communities to engage the community and review policing policies. Council members affirmed this plan, and the police department set about reviewing existing programs.
Step 1: Review Existing Programs, including:
Step 2: Analyze Use of Force Policies, Discipline and Alternate Policing
In addition to reviewing existing programs noted above, city council outlined additional review and analysis steps based on resident feedback. The final report to the community included an analysis of:
Step 3: Solicit Expert Advice
Council held a study session featuring four experts who were asked to discuss current trends and best practices regarding policing. City council also requested a survey of all sworn officers to better understand their perspectives.
Step 4: A Community Conversation
On July 22, the City of Englewood held a Telephone Town Hall for 21st Century Policing. Police and city council members presented information and fielded questions regarding police practices such as policies, training, hiring, discipline, organizational culture, alternative policing, and best practices for law enforcement.
Step 5: Creation of the Police Reform Task Force
Based on information collected from previous steps, city council established a police reform task force, including key local stakeholders. The task force was asked to provide council with recommendations regarding training, hiring and discipline; use of force policies and procedures; and alternate policing.
Meeting for 2-3 hours each week for a month, the task force released more than 30 recommendations that departments are working with EPD to implement as part of step 6.
Economic Vitality Though COVID and Beyond
When COVID-19 began to close many businesses, the city acted quickly to develop a series of programs designed to support local businesses.
Small Business Grants
Thanks to funding from the city budget and the CARES Act, Englewood businesses received 430 grants, with relief funds covering expenses such as PPE, lost revenue, outdoor accommodations and more.
Downtown Development Authority (DDA)
Working with downtown business leaders, city council approved a special November election during which voters approved the creation of the DDA. The DDA will partner with city departments, the chamber of commerce, and nonprofits to focus on placemaking, marketing, mobility, safety, and economic development.
Career Boot Camp
In partnership with Arapahoe Community College (ACC) and the chamber of commerce, the city sponsored a career boot camp for COVID-displaced workers. The Live Local, Learn Local and Work Local Displaced Worker program will educate 40 participants on career-building skills. Participants will receive $200 and an additional $1,145 future scholarship to be used for more training through ACC.
Time for Takeout
After in-person dining was prohibited, the city partnered with the chamber of commerce to launch the Time for Takeout Campaign. A master list of restaurants offering takeout was quickly assembled and published on both the city and chamber websites and promoted on social media.
Business Storytelling and Staycation Series
The city and chamber of commerce launched a free business storytelling series to promote Englewood-based businesses. The campaign was open to all businesses and the communications department launched a social media campaign asking the community to nominate businesses. Each story featured a brief description of a business and a customized video interviewing an employee and showing footage of the business and what services they provide.
Emergency Preparedness and Stormwater Resiliency Following Tragedy
A 2018 flood brought to light Englewood’s shortcomings with both emergency management planning and the city’s stormwater infrastructure. After the flood, all city staff were required to complete Incident Command System Training. The city also entered into an agreement with Arapahoe County that provides Englewood with a comprehensive emergency management program to prevent, prepare for, and recover from emergencies.
In addition to the tragic 2018 flood event, in 2019 the city experienced a stormwater system failure, resulting in a large sinkhole on a high-volume roadway. These highly publicized system failures increased the urgency of the city to develop a plan for studying, planning, and implementing a long-term stormwater infrastructure plan.
The city undertook key studies to determine the extent of the problem and arrive at solutions. Throughout each of these studies, the community was engaged through public meetings, surveys and direct mailers, individual meetings with homeowners, and stormwater study sessions.
As a result of these studies and community feedback, infrastructure was adopted as the number one priority in the city’s 2020 strategic plan. The plan identified 29 projects which would need to be completed to reduce risk and achieve flood protection. Most projects involve the replacement, or installation of larger storm sewer pipes to provide greater capacity to capture and convey water. The highest-prioritized projects will be constructed over the next two to three years.
Additionally, two new stormwater maintenance technicians were hired, and staff completed a proactive maintenance plan.
To fund these improvements, council approved a loan from the general fund and homeowner stormwater fees were increased. Because raising fees is often unpopular, the city began a community engagement and public information campaign to educate, inform and develop resident buy-in.
Additionally, the city created a new utility assistance program which provides for a sliding scale of direct assistance based on income.