Northglenn launches mediation program

Tammy Kranz
Posted

The city of Northglenn has rolled out a new program to help residents resolve ongoing disputes.

During its May 20 regular meeting, City Council unanimously approved a resolution to begin its mediation program.

The goals of the program are to reduce repeat complaints “where the intent is to harass and or retaliate against another party and provide a means to resolve differences in a meaningful, collaborative way, when possible,” according to the resolution.

Staff members have already been trained in mediation.

Re-certification training would have an annual cost of $1,000 per person.

Councilman Gene Wieneke, Ward IV, expressed concerns about staff time being used to resolve issues he did not think were within city’s realm of responsibility such as cultural diversity issues or noise and parking disputes.

“I just don’t see why we should be using city staff time and money to mitigate issues unless they’re tied to a code violation,” he said.

City attorney Corey Hoffmann explained to council that despite there being a lot of portions of the mediation program that are not code disputes, it is up to council to decide whether to provide the services.

“This is definitely challenging my comfort zone in term of municipal services,” he said.

“But it is a municipal service that some municipalities choose to provide and it is, I think, perceived to be filling a need.”

Brook Svoboda, director of planning and development, said that when staff has been involved with mediation in the past, it does reduce staff time.

“We get called on either false complaints or what are repeat complaints because it’s a tit for tat … next thing you know we found ourselves embroiled in a neighborhood feud over something we don’t necessarily enforce against but that we end up having to take more time and resources for,” he said, adding that the program would only be applied to repeat offenders.

Ward I Councilwoman Carol Dodge said she likes the program because it could help small neighborhood disputes from escalating.

“I really support this because you are offering it as a precursor to going to court,” Dodge said.

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