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Samuel Assefa, senior urban designer for the City of Boulder, talks to people on 12th and Pennsylvania about plans for renovating the University Hill.
Samuel Assefa, senior urban designer for the City of Boulder, talks to people on 12th and Pennsylvania about plans for renovating the University Hill.

University of Colorado students joined residents and city officials in the first University Hill Street Celebration Friday with an afternoon of food and performances.

The celebration was intended to bring residents, students and businesses together after years of disagreement between the groups who share the district, which has become a hub for off-campus student life.

Recent discussions between City of Boulder and university officials and a weeklong conference addressing the community’s struggle between residents, businesses and students, lead to the event, said Samuel Assefa, senior urban designer for the city.

“The idea is to take advantage of the students’ creativity to bring the community together,” Assefa said. “Broadway is a physical and metaphorical barrier and we’re hoping these events can help bridge that gap between students and the Hill community.”

The celebration — which took place on Pennsylvania Street — included student dancers, food and a display of photos of the Hill taken by middle school students.

“This is different from a normal street fair because we’re really focused on the creative aspects,” Assefa said.

Assefa said the city is hoping to make the celebration a reoccurring event. But since Friday was the test-run future dates have yet been determined.

The regular events are just one of the many discussions between officials about how to liven the Hill atmosphere and calm the rocky relationship between students and residents. A plan for redesigning the area is also underway.

But some students believe the campus community has been left out of the planning process, adding to the animosity, said CU alum Marco Arguelles.

“At the end of the day this is a student area,” Arguelles said. “There’s all this talk about collaboration but they’re not asking the students, the main Hill population what they want.”

Arguelles, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in urban planning in May, said he would like to see more lights on the Hill for both safety and decorative reasons, more space for creative expression and additional recycle and trash bins to help reduce littering.

Arguelles said he represents the student population better then city officials and thinks students should not only be included but given significant consideration.

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