EDGEWATER — This weekend, thanks to its bustling marijuana trade, this tiny city on the western shore of Sloan’s Lake will forge a new civic identity with the opening of a $13 million municipal complex complete with library, police station, fitness center and city offices.
Without $3 million in tax money from the city’s half-dozen pot shops to put toward the project’s total cost, city manager HJ Stalf said, “We’d still be chasing it.”
And during that chase, Edgewater’s police force would still be working out of the cramped space of a former butcher’s shop and city staff would continue toiling out of an office furniture store-turned-city hall on Sheridan Boulevard.
Now the soul of this city of 5,200 will be consolidated in a colorful and gleaming new 55,000-square-foot building at 1800 N. Harlan St.
A grand opening ceremony for the Edgewater Civic Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.
“It gives us a civic identity that we’ve pretty much lacked for the last 50 years,” Stalf said, adding wryly: “It’s going to be the community gathering place — unless you’re coming here in the back of a patrol car.”
In charge of that part of the operation will be Police Chief John Mackey, who said the city’s dilapidated station on West 25th Avenue has so little space that the department had to store evidence from an April homicide with a neighboring agency.
The new facility boasts a secure parking lot for suspect intakes, in case anybody gets the notion that making an escape on foot is a good idea. There are plenty of interview rooms, spacious lockers for police equipment and a big room in the basement for evidence.
“It’s a benefit for the city because we’ll have a much easier time in the recruitment and retention of officers,” Mackey said. “It will go a long ways to professionalizing our department.”
Edgewater has long been on the cutting edge of the legal retail marijuana arena in the metro area, making sales the day it became legal in Colorado in 2014 and allowing its stores to stay open until midnight. The city used sales tax revenues from cannabis to repave all of its streets and then got the idea of using the money to upgrade its civic infrastructure, too.
It built the new facility with an eye toward burgeoning social and technological trends. The civic center features four charging stations for electric vehicles, and the entire building is outfitted with gender-neutral bathrooms in recognition of the considerations that have arisen of late around gender identity. The fitness center even has gender-neutral locker rooms –equipped with private rooms for changing and showering — that for many, Stalf admits, will take some getting used to.
The fitness center comes with a brand-new basketball court ringed by an elevated running track, and $250,000 worth of exercise equipment that provides users with a spectacular view of Denver’s skyline to the east while they huff and puff their way through a workout.
The new library is far larger than Edgewater’s current one, which first opened in 1939.
On Friday, work crews were running all over trying to put the finishing touches on the new civic center. The city’s silver logo had been hung on the wall of council chambers in just the previous hour.
“We’re trying to build a building that’s going to have a 50-year half-life,” Stalf said.
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Author: John Aguilar
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