Arvada’s Year in Review 2020

Posted 12/28/20

In a year filled with drastic change, Arvada was no exception. Much of the year was spent adapting to the challenges of COVID-19, and the associated health orders. From portions of Olde Town roadway …

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Arvada’s Year in Review 2020


In a year filled with drastic change, Arvada was no exception. Much of the year was spent adapting to the challenges of COVID-19, and the associated health orders. From portions of Olde Town roadway being closed for much of the year to help local businesses, to area schools and parents trying many different ways to still teach and nurture our children, this year forced everyone to adapt.

Beyond the pandemic, Arvada was challenged to adapt and evolve in other ways too. The presidential campaign and competing street protests literally split right down the middle of Wadsworth. From environmental arguments around controversial changes to trash hauling, to street protests demanding racial justice around issues of law enforcement, challenges were everywhere.

But here we are, on the other side of many of those challenges, even as more appear. Here is a look back at some of the stories that stuck out in 2020.

Lake Arbor assist

A project that has taken over the entire sixth grade class at Moore Middle School — and will soon find its way into Arvada City Hall — started with one 11-year-old, Zach Ford, while he was on a walk with his dad John this summer.

The two were passing by Lake Arbor when Zach asked his dad why they couldn’t see any fish in the lake. John suggested that Zach pose the question to his sixth-grade science teacher, Alicia Asmus at Moore Middle School. What followed was a real-life lesson in civics and science for area students. After several water tests, the students identified that algae blooms were turning the lake toxic, killing fish and turning it into a public health hazard for Arvada residents. The students proposed an ecological fix, which they can hopefully implement, to improve Lake Arbor for everyone.

Parkway hits more speed bumps

For backers of the Jefferson Parkway — a proposed 10-mile long toll road thought the northwest portion of Arvada, connecting state highways 93 and 128 — the year did not start well.

On Dec. 23, 2019, word came down that one of the three construction/management firms that had been vying for the Jefferson Parkway project was bowing out. The reason? “The project’s anticipated revenue potential does not adequately support the project’s costs by a sizable gap.”

Then city council of Broomfield — one of three entities who formed the original Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA) more than a decade ago — unanimously voted to withdraw from JPPHA on Feb. 25.

The news got a little better as the year went on. Two other construction and management firms are still in the running. Arvada and Jefferson County have maintained their commitments to the JPPHA, and health officials officially declared that radiation dangers along the Rocky Flats-adjacent portions of the planned roadway are low enough to not scrap the project.

Still, the road ahead remains bumpy.

Council contention

It was a contentious year for the Arvada City Council. Issues like the Granview Station development and the city’s continued political and financial support of the Jefferson Parkway would keep most city council’s on their toes, but this was also the year that the council passed a vote to establish single-hauler trash service in the city, 4-3. The move, long-debated, was supported by a city commission tasked with looking into the option, and by a majority of the city council. However, not everyone was pleased with the city’s move, taking the choice out of the hands of citizens, and charging those who did not want to use the city-sanctioned company.

A recall effort was immediately launched, targeting Bob Fifer, Nancy Ford, Lauren Simpson and Mayor Pro Tem Dot Miller. The effort floundered, due to a lack of supporting signatures, but as the city’s new trash hauling contract takes effect, July 2021, it remains to be seen how well this new arrangement will work, and if the supporting councilmembers will face repercussions in the next regular election.

Shocking shooting

On July 11, Arvada police responded to a shooting related to a conflict between two motorcycle gangs. The shooting occurred near Jake’s Roadhouse, a bar at 5980 N. Lamar St.

Arvadans Ryan McPherson was struck by someone and injured. Fellow Arvadan William Henderson, known to his friends as Kelly, died of a gunshot. Two others were injured but fled the scene before police arrived.

Marking the milestones

In spite of the challenges presented by 2020, there was much about the year for Arvadan’s to celebrate.

Sept. 20 marked the 150th anniversary of the Arvada United Methodist Church. And while the celebration may have had to take place in the church parking lot, the enduring church community was happy to congregate, even six feet apart.

In October, the iconic Olde town water tower celebrated its 110th year.

And then on Dec. 1, Arvada turned 150, with the city council recognizing the anniversary of the platting and naming of the city.


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