It’s Wednesday, Boulder. We’re back. Here’s what’s going on in town:

In today’s stories, John Herrick has a scooplet: West Pearl between 9th and 11th Streets will likely be an extended pedestrian mall no more. City officials said they will recommend that the barriers that have blocked traffic during the pandemic be removed. The plan is likely to displease many, including some city councilmembers. Officials say ending the street closure doesn’t require council approval.

Also, Henry Larson covers Fairview High as it deals with a new chapter in its sexual harassment saga. For years, students of the South Boulder high school have alerted administrators to a culture of sexual harassment and assault. Yet as a new principal settles in and district officials commit to address their concerns, new sexual misconduct litigation has some students worried about how much work is left ahead.

Until Friday,

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • A few more days of wild heat: More record-breaking temps in the mid-90s, but a reprieve is coming. If weather predictors are to be believed, we’re on our last days of extreme heat. (Mid-60s for a high on Saturday.) Then come autumnal days, still with heat, just not so extreme.
  • Marshall Fire navigator program is overwhelmed: At least two weeks delay awaits residents who reach out to the program for help. The program, which has already aided 105 households, helps those affected by the fire by providing referrals to insurance claims advisors, comprehensive recovery planning resources, financial resources for rebuilding and mental health services. The service is essential to those in need, as much of the money left in the Boulder County Wildfire Fund can only be accessed through the program. “We currently have hundreds of clients in need and are working to expand the team of five to be able to handle the level of need we’re seeing,” said Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains Program Director Disaster Response Phyllis Kane. “The team will increase in size in the coming months. In the meantime, the existing group of Recovery Navigators is working tirelessly to get to everyone on the list and to ensure this level of service is provided to all residents.” For more information, click here.
  • BCyle giving away free passes: Community Cycles and Boulder BCycle are partnering to bring free BCycle passes to low-income workers. The passes come with expectations, however. Such expectations include using the Boulder BCycle as your primary commuter, using it for as many of your day-to-day activities as possible, and providing data on the experience. This data will be used to “help shape the future of this program through Fall 2023.” For the full list of expectations and details on the program, read more here. If you’re already sold and ready to apply, the application is here.
  • CU Boulder administrators announce the creation of a Sexual Misconduct Task Force: As the CU Independent reports, the task force is not designed to investigate sexual assault claims or act on them. Rather, it’s designed to investigate possible solutions and resources to confront the issue of sexual assault on campus. The task force was formed in response to recent allegations of assault as well as protests on campus last November. Read more about the task force here. In a similarly bleak vein, the Boulder Police Department is seeking a suspect for a series of weekend burglaries, sexual contacts and motor vehicle theft. Read more and see a video of the suspect here.
  • Backers of referendum to undo CU South annexation agreement make good on promise: Supporters had said they would petition a Boulder County District Court judge if the title of their ballot measure isn’t changed. Last week, the Boulder City Council finalized the measure without the minor wording tweak. Repeal CU South Annexation advocates filed their petition, the Daily Camera reported. Background from us here. Stay tuned: We’ll have more for you on this development and what it means.
  • Artists sought for the City of Boulder Public Art Program: This fall will offer artists in Boulder many opportunities to showcase their talents. From helping outfit a public rain garden to painting murals on qualified buildings, those with an artistic bent should make sure they’re involved. “Art and the expression of culture in our public spaces enriches our quality of life and shared experiences in Boulder,” said Maria Cole, Boulder Arts Commission member. “The Arts Commission is actively working to support authentic expression of diverse voices in our community, and we encourage all members of the community to consider applying for these opportunities.” Find out more here.
  • Updated Omicron “bivalent” boosters now available in Boulder County: The shots target the original coronavirus strain and Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. Find local locations here.

Go deeper

Boulder plans to reopen West Pearl Street to cars, city officials say

By John Herrick

As soon as this month, city officials said they plan to reopen West Pearl Street to cars, a move that would bring the pedestrian-friendly transformation ushered in by the Covid-19 pandemic to at least a temporary end.

Pearl Street was closed to traffic between 9th and 11th Streets since May 2020, so restaurants could serve food and alcohol outside when coronavirus precautions limited indoor dining capacity. At the end of August 2022, City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde lifted the emergency measure that allowed restaurants to use public sidewalks and streets. Nearly all businesses have since cleared out their tables and tents along West Pearl. Only concrete barriers block cars from passing through. 

“The reasons to keep it closed no longer exist,” Cris Jones, the interim director for the Community Vitality Department, told Boulder Reporting Lab. 

Continue reading…

Amid new wave of sexual misconduct litigation, Fairview High School students remain dedicated to changing a culture rocked by assault allegations and turnover

By Henry Larson

In 2019, three Fairview High students pressed charges against the school’s then-star quarterback, Aidan Atkinson, for sexual assault and harassment. The criminal case went to trial a year later, ending with an acquittal on all but two harassment charges.

But as the case wrapped up, it launched a new era of scrutiny into a school culture that some say failed for decades to take steps to prevent sexual misconduct. 

And despite principal turnover and several initiatives to change that culture, the 2022-23 school year kicked off last month with reports of a fresh wave of criminal and civil litigation involving sexual misconduct. 

The surfacing of the allegations — including a multiple rape conviction — is fueling skepticism among some students who have been pressing district officials for change.

“I’ve gotten kind of used to an administration saying they were going to change,” Fairview senior Sadie Hudson told Boulder Reporting Lab, “and then nothing resulting from it.”

Continue reading…

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BRL picks

🚴‍♀️ IRONMAN 2023 Registration Opens: Today at 12 p.m. registration opens for the June 10, 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder. For those who are interested in participating but don’t know where to start, check out BECOME ONE Q&A: “Experienced IROMAN U Certified Coaches on help answer your questions and talk through details on what training for an IRONMAN entails.” Registration for the IRONMAN can be found here, with the zoom for the Q&A here

🍕 Farm-to-table dinners at Sunbeam Farm: Sept. 10 and 24 farmer and professional chef Juliette Wells will be cooking for those who buy. Seats are $65 and include tax, tip, water and iced tea. Any other beverage you’d like to bring, you can do so. Find out more here.

♻️ Compost Workshops: Backyard composting reduces your carbon footprint and provides quality compost for your gardens. But getting a compost pile started can be finicky. Thankfully, Boulder will be offering virtual and in-person sessions ranging from September 12 to October 22. Everything from what to feed your compost to what bins to use will be covered. As covered by BRL, there is a knowledge gap as to what can be composted and what can’t. Find out more here.

Covid in Boulder County: Sept. 7, 2022

  • 120 daily new cases (7-day avg.) Up 50% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 16 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Up from a high of 12 last week.
  • 38% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 66% since July 2020.

What else we’re reading

  • A bike thief who targeted high-end bike shops along the Front Range was sentenced to 16 years in prison for stealing close to $1 million of bikes. Boulder Reporting Lab touched on the crime ring, which targeted North Boulder’s Boulder Cycle Sport, in its recent story about bike thefts in Boulder.

ICYMI


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.