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Aurora council approves  housing board members

Bill Powell. Former AurorPolice Chief Bill Powell has been nominated by Mayor Tom Weisner serve AurorHousing Authority Board.

Bill Powell. Former Aurora Police Chief Bill Powell has been nominated by Mayor Tom Weisner to serve on the Aurora Housing Authority Board.

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Updated: November 30, 2012 11:10AM

AURORA — Aldermen unanimously approved the appointment of two new Aurora Housing Authority board members this week.

Former Aurora Police Chief Bill Powell and Rey Cruz, owner of Cruz Investments & Wealth Management, replace AHA Board members Avis Miller and Myrna Molina. Molina and Miller’s terms expired in fall 2011.

Aldermen voted 10-0 to approve the board appointments, with Alderman Abby Schuler, 1st Ward, and Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Ward, abstaining. Both aldermen have abstained from council votes concerning the AHA citing family ties to AHA board members.

Powell, who served on the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force, said serving on the Housing Authority Board “will definitely be a challenge” because of the controversy surrounding a proposed housing rebuild at the Jericho Circle site.

“I’ve been on the record many times stating that I’m against (a rebuild at Jericho Circle), but I’m going into this with an open mind,” Powell said previously.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, said Powell has been passionate and outspoken.

“I think that the real concern I have is how does this board function?” Lawrence said. “I think it’s going to be a real interesting dynamic there with (board members) Al Schuler, Bill Burns and Bill Powell. We’ve seen those flare ups quite a bit.”

Miller, who is leaving the AHA board, said, “We need affordable housing in Aurora and I personally believe that the Aurora Housing Board that was, or is, in place is trying their hardest to address this one step at a time.”

Lawrence, however, said he believed the Housing Authority in general did “more damage in so many years, in decades, to families who were struggling.”

Resident Fran Shaw said Powell’s background will serve the Housing Authority well, but urged the council to put a moratorium on affordable housing.

“It’s fairly obvious that we don’t have a good grasp on what affordable housing currently exists,” Shaw said.

RiverEdge Park

Aldermen also unanimously approved a deal for the Aurora Civic Center Authority, which manages the Paramount Theatre, to also manage the new downtown RiverEdge Park.

Under the 18-month deal, the Civic Center Authority will be responsible for programming and operations of the park.

The city will pay ACCA $250,000 toward programming at the park and reimburse for the cost of maintenance, which officials estimate will cost about $350,000.

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