Since the Great 500 Year Flood of 2013, the town of Lyons is now prospering and has maintained its close-knit community. It offers arts, music, outdoor activities, and excellent schools. All the while, the town government has been working steadfastly to finish up the Post-Flood Projects since 2013, which amounted to approximately $75 million in recovery projects, with the majority coming from Federal and State grants.
Every person who experienced the flood has watched guardedly as the majority of the town has been renovated to conditions which were often better than the original. Even Mayor Nick Angelo, who was only elected in April 2020, is well aware of the Post Flood projects still on the table, and can list them off the top of his head.
The town has gone through four mayors since the flood: Julie Van Domelen, 2009-2014 = John O’Brien, 2014-2016 = Connie Sullivan, 2016-2020 = Nicholas Angelo, elected April, 2020. However, during that time, it has had only one Town Administrator: Victoria Simonsen. She has been the thread through all of this, educating each new Town Board of Trustees, as well as the local commissions and boards.
Meadow Park was re-opened to residents on September 9, 2016, with much fanfare with local homeowners and state politicians present. It opened officially to the public on June 24, 2017. It was renamed to LaVern M Johnson Park as part of the revitalization of the park.
The park is amazing enough to equal any park found in a town 25 times the size of Lyons. After the flood, it was covered in boulders, with the beloved 1930s Shelter destroyed and the St. Vrain River ravaged, along with the infrastructure, such as electricity and sewer and water. The park was rebuilt and redesigned with widespread community input, including volunteer work, and multiple grants, with total project cost of nearly $7 million, with an additional one million spent after its opening.
Lyons’ other large public park, Bohn Park, will have Phase 2 completed this fall, but ceremonies will take place sometime in 2021, when it is safe for the public to gather, and COVID-19 regulations are abated.
This year, on September 11, seven years after the start of the flood, the only ceremony taking place was the non-public Lyons Arts & Humanities Commission dedication of the Bell of Renewal sculpture at the western entrance to the park.
“We haven’t missed a beat,” said Simonsen. “We are here working for our community because this money needs to be spent by the end of the year. Other than Second Avenue Bridge, the Fourth Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and Summit (Housing), we will be done with the Post Flood Projects. We are currently installing all new storm drainage on High Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenue. We are securing funds for the Fourth Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, amounting to between $500,000 and $700,000 in grants. To date, nearly $75 million in infrastructure and improvements have been invested into our community through flood recovery.
“Lyons can look at the silver lining that came from the Flood recovery projects,” added Simonsen. “Anyone who lives here or enjoys our parks can point toward those funds and be thankful. We also have the highest number of state open space per capita here. I’m so proud and happy to live and work here.”
Simonsen wanted to point out the special efforts that it took for the Second Avenue bridge becoming reality because of Jim Blankenship. He was the town engineer for nearly 15 years, and he passed away in 2019. She stated that “he worked on getting this bridge approved to the very end. He went to FEMA and fought to get a bridge free of piers that would catch debris in the next flood. FEMA initially only approved repairs. We anticipate that it will be done next summer and will dedicate the bridge to him”.
Simonsen offered the following comments updating each of the projects:
PROJECT LIST FOR TOWN OF LYONS POST FLOOD WORK:
==Public Works Facilities ==The facility includes the Public Works operations and storage buildings, located in the eastern corridor, which was annexed in 2017.
Completed in April 2020.
==Bohn Park Phase II ==This includes the skatepark, two ballfields, a shelter/pavilion, and trails which are currently being finalized this fall.
Bohn Park Phase II is substantially complete, and the work should wrap up at the end of September. The public is welcome to stop by and see the completed work (maintaining social distancing and no vehicles).
There is a new sculpture, the Bell of Renewal, near the Rocky Mt. Botanic Gardens, in addition to three previously installed ones. Also, stop by to see the recently installed interpretive sign, along the river. It includes the history of the Native Americans who lived in the area. The ballfields and areas near the Skate Park just had new sod laid and several young trees planted. The park itself is looking green and lush, with areas to step down to the river, well-designated paths, and the pedestrian bridge which crosses the South St Vrain.
==Lyons Valley River Park ==Construction of ponds, trails, irrigation, and landscaping.
To be more specific, this involves the area from Black Bear Hole to the Ponds by McConnell Bridge. While the majority of work is finished, we need one more year for the plantings to take and irrigation to be finalized. Other groups have been involved in things along the river, like signage, renovation of river banks, placing of bird nesting boxes, stocking fish, structures and more.
==Affordable Housing Development, located in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision
The Town is working with Summit Housing, who has submitted changes to their final plans, and it is in the review process currently. Building permits should likely happen in 2021, if approved. The project includes adding 40 affordable houses, which breaks down into 24 single family houses, and four four-plexes, or 16 multi-family units.
==Second Avenue Bridge ==A free-span bridge, to mitigate flood impacts.
This project has gone through the three stages: 30%, 90% and final design phase and approved by FEMA and others. The construction bid has been approved at the September 8 BOT meeting. The lowest bid was from Zak Dirt Construction, who also did the replacement of the McConnell Bridge. The project should begin in November.
==Apple Valley Waterline ==Relocating potable waterline from stream to more resilient location under Apple Valley Road.
This project was completed in 2019 and final paving of the road was finished in spring of 2020. The Town of Lyons, Boulder County and City of Longmont worked to replace the water line to be under the road and out of the river; and then repaved the road from Antelope Road to Highway 36.
==Eastern Corridor Utilities ==To bring water and sewer utilities to the Eastern Corridor, which includes new a lift station, new force main, and three pressure reducing waterline connections.
This was completed in the spring of 2020. We have a new waste lift station. Whenever you have areas lower than your wastewater treatment plant, you must lift the waste to be able to gravity flow it to the plant. We have five such areas in town. The line runs back from our new station to just east of Clark’s Hardware. This will now allow properties along this corridor the opportunity to connect to municipal sewer lines.
==Roadway Repair & Paving
This has been underway this summer. It involves roadway replacement along Second Avenue, Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. In addition, new curb, gutter, and stormwater drainage improvements were made to these streets and Park Street and Evans Street (mostly the streets near the post office). There is some striping to complete, crosswalks and stop bars. Final clean up behind the curbs that still needs to be done.