Wildcats, water issues and a woman mayor marked Arvada in the ’60s

The 93rd annual Arvada Harvest Festival celebrates the the decade

Posted 8/29/18

The 1960s were a time of water uncertainty, new schools, growth, growing pains and the coming of age for the city of Arvada. In the year 1960, the census population of Arvada was recorded at 19,167. …

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Wildcats, water issues and a woman mayor marked Arvada in the ’60s

The 93rd annual Arvada Harvest Festival celebrates the the decade

Posted

The 1960s were a time of water uncertainty, new schools, growth, growing pains and the coming of age for the city of Arvada.

In the year 1960, the census population of Arvada was recorded at 19,167. An increase of over eight times that of a decade earlier.

“Arvada was really growing, everything was just morphing out,” Scott Staley, Arvada West Class of 1964, recalls.

That same year the city signed a contract with Denver Water to allow Arvada to purchase water from Denver. According to the Arvada Historical Society, the contract was hailed as the “most important happening in Arvada’s history.”

That same year, the largest bond issue in Arvada’a history was passed by city council to pay for a 5.4 million gallon water storage reservoir and the necessary conduits. It was thought to be the final step in assuring Arvada perpetual water supply.

But water consumption almost doubled that year.

In October, council approved funds to double the capacity of the Garrison Street Filter Plant to four million gallons of water per day.

The following year was the first time the Arvada City Budget surpassed one million dollars.

The water shortage and finding a solution for it was a thread that continued throughout the 1960s.

Building in Arvada boomed in the early 1960s with one of the biggest projects being the building of Arvada West High School, which opened in 1963. North Arvada Junior High also opened that year and Oberon opened the year after.

Seven elementary schools in Arvada were also built in the ‘60s: Allendale, Campbell, Hackberry Hill, Parr, Peck, Swanson and Vanderhoof.

Staley recalls much more of neighborhood life organized around the schools back then.

“You had wrestling Thursday, football or basketball Friday or Saturday. That’s what you did, where you went for entertainment.”

In 1963 the city of Arvada was divided on the issue of an attempt to form an urban renewal district. According to the Arvada Historical Society, the split caused “wounds that did not heal for several years.”

A record number of voters went to the polls that year and rejected the ordinance for the urban renewal district. Citizens also voted down a $700,000 bond issue to build a new city hall and library, and a $770,000 bond issue to cover the cost of downtown improvements.

Arvada’s first woman councilmember, Ann Jackson, was also elected that year. She was also elected by the council to serve as mayor, becoming the city’s first female mayor.

In 1963, Arvada citizens also voted to make the city a home-rule city and appointed a 21-member charter convention to write the charter, which was eventually approved by residents.

With the Cold War still posing a threat to the U.S., the first bomb shelter was opened in 1963 at the Western Federal Savings and Loan office in Lakewood. The shelter at North Arvada Junior High was also one of the first shelters opened to the public.

In 1964, the 60th year of the city, urban renewal attempts continued and leadership in Arvada was questioned.

Following the firing of the city attorney and the “forced resignation” of the city manager, residents tried to recall Jackson and Councilman William Wilkie.

Although the recall was unsuccessful, Jackson and Wilkie resigned from their positions in 1965.

Also in 1965, the Arvada Harvest Festival reached its 40th anniversary.

The city faced extensive flooding that year. The following year, I-70 made its way to town, connecting it to the greater metro area.

In 1968, the North Jeffco Metropolitan Park and Recreation District saw a “banner year” with the opening of the Ralston Recreation Center’s indoor swimming pool and a $1.27 million bond issue to build a new golf course and other recreational facilities.

The following year, a two year controversy over the location of a proposed city hall was settled when council began the process of building the structure at Ralston Road and Ammons Street — where Arvada City Hall still stands today.

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