Published: Sept. 15, 2021

Boulder City Council on Sept. 14 took the next step toward approval of the proposed CU Boulder South annexation agreement, and in the same meeting honored longtime university employee Frances Draper, whose leadership and collaborative spirit were instrumental over the years in moving annexation discussions forward. 

The late Frances Draper

Frances Draper, who was honored by Boulder City Council, passed away Sept. 1. 

Tuesday’s second reading of the ordinance, which included a public hearing in which nearly 100 members of the community spoke mostly in support of annexation, followed a first-reading passage of the agreement by the council in early August. Council continued Tuesday’s meeting to Sept. 21, at which time the governing body will deliberate and is expected to make a final vote. Community members who wish to weigh in following Tuesday’s public hearing can still email City Council ahead of the Sept. 21 deliberation. 

Draper, a former vice chancellor of strategic relations and communications who retired in March, died Sept. 1 after a long battle with cancer. Mayor Sam Weaver read a tribute to Draper, noting her many roles throughout her career as a community builder in the city of Boulder, including a 10-year stint at CU Boulder.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to be able to work with Frances in her role with the university,” Weaver said. “I did not know Frances personally but I will say that she did an excellent job in being an ambassador to both us in the city government as well as to the people of Boulder more broadly.”

CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano also recognized Draper during his opening remarks as university officials presented on the annexation agreement.

“Frances led this process for many years and as long as she could while she bravely battled through her cancer,” DiStefano said. “And I want to publicly honor and thank Frances for her contributions to CU and the city of Boulder. She was a firm believer that the university’s and city’s success were deeply intertwined and that we could both maximize our potential by working together and building off each other’s strengths. None of us could have gotten here without her work, her collegiality and her dedication to this project. And she is with us and always will be in spirit.”

CU Boulder South is a 308-acre parcel on the southeast edge of Boulder that the university purchased in 1996 to help ensure it could continue to meet its mission for decades to come. The proposed annexation is years in the making and, if approved, would provide urgently needed flood protection for 2,300 downstream residents and help alleviate Boulder’s severe housing shortage. 

The draft agreement includes the transfer of just over half the site—155 acres—to the city for construction of flood mitigation measures and the preservation of 119 acres of new permanent Open Space. The agreement also sets parameters around the 129 acres of developable area on which the university intends to build roughly 1,100 units of housing attainable to CU Boulder students, faculty and staff, in addition to a limited amount of non-residential space. The agreement also includes requirements around innovative traffic solutions, such as a trip cap for vehicles entering and leaving the site, that will mitigate traffic and support the city’s and university’s sustainability goals.

“The agreement on the table is a world-class example of how a university and community can work in tandem toward an equitable and sustainable future,” DiStefano said. “It allows the community to continue to enjoy the wonderful natural beauty and accessibility of the site, while moving to protect 2,300 residents from the very real threat of future floods. It sustains a relationship between the city of Boulder and the University of Colorado that began in the 1800s and has carried us through both good and challenging times.”