Welcome to 2023, Boulder. We’re back, and so are you. Thanks for being here.

John Herrick brings you two stories today. The first covers Golden West, a nonprofit that runs a retirement community off 28th Street. Last week, Golden West announced plans to close its assisted living facility, citing financial reasons. The 54-bed location was the last such facility in Boulder accepting Medicaid. It’s closure will exacerbate the lack of housing options for low-income older adults who want to live in our town. The facility’s 33 residents have until March 4 to move out, meaning many will have to scramble to find another assisted living facility they can afford.

John’s second story is an update on the main library that was closed due to meth contamination in the bathrooms. The library reopens today, though with bathrooms that will remain closed for several weeks for continued cleaning. When they reopen, they may require a key.

I also wrote a story for today. Mine is about prairie dogs and their happenings in the City of Boulder. Over the past year, the rodents expanded their reach by roughly 5,000 acres on city open space. They now have a greater foothold on city land than ever before. This is leading to increased conflict with farmers and heightened concern of desertification. But as lethal control is used on greater swaths of city land, it’s important to acknowledge that prairie dogs’ negative influence on the landscape is a continuation of what we began.

I hope you had a great holiday season and are enjoying the new year. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Temperate with some wind: High 40s to low 50s this week with some breezes. If any moisture comes, it’ll probably be on Wednesday.
  • Boulder main library set to reopen: The city is planning to reopen the downtown Boulder Public Library today. The library was closed on Dec. 20 following tests showing contamination for methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant that is often smoked. “The public restrooms are currently sealed in an airtight environment, being cleaned and some materials removed,” the city said on Jan. 6. New testing will be done before they can reopen. The Meadows, George Reynolds and North Boulder library branches remain fully open.
    • The closure is a symptom of a drug addiction crisis that Boulder, like cities across the country, is ill-equipped to handle. According to the state, 18 people died in Boulder County of a methamphetamine overdose in 2021.  
  • Police Monitor finalists: The City of Boulder has announced the small pool of possible replacements for Joey Lipari, the Independent Police Monitor who resigned this past September. With this list of finalists, the city is welcoming community members to weigh in. On Jan. 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the finalists will introduce themselves at a virtual meeting before answering community-submitted questions.
    • The finalists are: Mac Muir, a former Supervising Investigator for the Civilian Complaint Review Board for the City of New York; Cathy Rodriguez, Colorado’s P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Compliance Manager; and Gina Torres, the Police Monitor for the Albany Community Police Review Board.
    • Whoever gets the job will work with the Boulder Police Department, the Police Oversight Panel, and “other city leadership” to ensure “transparency, accountability, community engagement, and best practices in policing.” This comes soon after oversight panel members said that city guidelines had made their job “extraordinarily challenging,” and after an internal police investigation uncovered “systemic failure” in the department’s detective section.
  • Boulder goes to Canada to talk biodiversity: One of three major threats to the global environment — along with desertification and climate change — biodiversity is gaining attention as of late, and for good reason. More than a million species of plants and animals are well on their way to extinction. When landscapes host a less diverse mix of plants and animals, it is more prone to desertification and less resilient to climate change.
    • Representatives from the City of Boulder attended COP15 in Montreal to share their expertise, and learn from others about how Boulder can be an instrument for change. “The real work happens at the local level,” said Rella Abernathy, the city’s senior ecologist and representative at the conference. “This was an important opportunity to share what we and our partners are doing here in Boulder with leaders from across the world. Boulder has an important role in rallying other communities to engage in policy setting. Communities must learn together and share knowledge to stop the degradation of living systems.”
    • As written about in BRL’s story on desertification, Boulder has already launched its Cool Boulder campaign that should offer community members ways to help combat environmental impacts. One area aimed at improving local biodiversity is the Pollinator Pathways initiative. This spring will bring more opportunities for engagement.
  • Security deposit interest increase: If you are getting back a safety deposit this year, make sure there’s 2% interest tacked on. The rate was determined by the “mathematical average of the one-year certificate of deposit from the top three financial institutions in Boulder, based on market share data as of Dec. 14, 2022.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr. events: A week from today we celebrate the civil rights leader. Appropriately, this coming weekend will be filled with events dedicated to his memory. At the Meadows library branch there will be traditional South Sudanese dances; the JCC will host a series of performers and speakers; and the Dairy Arts Center will present monologues, songs and hip-hop poetry. All the events are free and open to the public, though some have tickets that can be reserved in advance.
  • Man stabbed at Barnes and Noble: At about 3 p.m. last Thursday, a man was confronted by a store employee for suspected theft. The suspect stabbed the employee and ran. Police were on the scene within a minute and made a quick arrest. The victim, 52, was taken to the hospital but was soon released.
    • Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Byars at 303-441-1970 reference case 23-00166.
  • Changing BRL’s Covid reporting: While we’re still tracking Covid case rates and hospitalizations, we’re no longer putting this data in this newsletter. With the Stazio testing facility closing on Jan. 15 and other viruses rising again, such figures no longer tell a complete story. The county maintains the data on its website.

Go deeper

Golden West’s plans to close Boulder assisted living facility leaves dozens of low-income older adults scrambling for a place to live

By John Herrick

January 9, 2023

Golden West, a Boulder-based nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing to older adults, announced last week it is closing its assisted living facility, citing financial reasons. The closure takes effect March 4. 

The sudden decision to close the Mezzanine, located at 1055 Adams Circle, was made by the organization’s board of directors and announced during a meeting with staff and residents on Jan. 4. In a letter to residents, the organization said the facility was “no longer financially sustainable.” 

It has left evicted residents and their families scrambling to find affordable alternatives in time. They were given a list of other private facilities, most of which are outside of Boulder. The paperwork to secure a bed in a similar location could take months. 

“I’m in a state of dismay,” Daniel Wentworth, a 67-year-old Army veteran who moved into the assisted living center about a year ago, said in an interview. “It took me more than 60 days to go through the process and paperwork to get a space here.” 

Continue reading…

In the new year, Boulder plans continued removal of prairie dogs as the rodents achieve record influx

By Tim Drugan

January 9, 2023

Prairie dogs added more than 5,000 acres of city open space to their domain this past year — the most ever recorded. Recent drought is partly to blame, as it created more sparsely vegetated land that is the dogs’ desired habitat. How to deal with this increase is an ever-evolving challenge. Starting in the latter half of 2021, the city began a lethal control program, along with live relocations, that will continue in 2023. 

Continue reading…

City of Boulder plans to increase security at public library after discovering methamphetamine use

By John Herrick

January 7, 2023

City officials are reopening the library this week with no access to bathrooms. A key may be required when they reopen.

Continue reading…

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BRL picks

🎻 Dvorak’s New World Symphony: On Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Dairy Arts Center, Boulder Symphony will perform Dvorak’s famous Symphony No. 9. The performance will run from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $5.

🏔️ 125 years of Chautauqua: On Thursday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m., the Museum of Boulder is hosting an opening reception for its exhibit on Chautauqua. Visitors will be able to see how the city park was developed and preserved, and “learn of Chautauqua’s earliest beginnings in 1898 as a mountain getaway chosen expressly for its health-giving environment.” The event is free.

🎨 Experimental painting: On Saturday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m., exhibiting artists Kevin Hoth and Kristopher Wright will offer tips on experimental photography and painting techniques at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The workshop will “encourage participants to push against the expectations of how a found image can operate within artistic practices,” and “explore how experimental photography and painting can be used as a form of healing, reconciliation, or discovery.” Tickets are $75.

For more ideas on what to do this week, check out BRL’s Local Events page.


Tim Drugan

Tim Drugan covers wildfires, water and other climate change-related issues for Boulder Reporting Lab with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism.