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DENVER-Voters in November could be asked to approve a record $505 million in public improvement projects. The single largest proposal is an estimated $300 million for a new city and county jail, known as the Justice Center.

The current jail is severely overcrowded and city officials worry that in the future a judge may order the city to build a new one.

“If that happens two years from now, how much more will it cost? Twenty, 25%?” asks city council member Ed Thomas.

The city identified five potential sites for the jail, but still must negotiate with the landowners. Also, neighbors surrounding any of the sites are almost certain to protest.

In addition to the jail, the Denver Health Medical Center wants voters to approve $100 million to add two floors to its current building. The money also would be used to build a new operating room and emergency room facilities.

The Denver Auditorium Theatre seeks $65 million to expand its seating to 2,400 from 2,000 and refurbish the almost 100-year-old facility.

Finally, the Denver Botanic Gardens wants $50 million to add a new glass house for plants and flowers, a children’s garden, a glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge from its parking lot across the busy York Street intersection, and a new entrance from Cheesman Park.

Some city council members worry that if all of the referendums are on the ballot, all of them will fail. The council must approve the requests before they appear on the ballot.

“I have nothing against the other proposals, but the jail is my priority,” city councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re waiting for direction from Mayor (Wellington) Webb before we decide what goes on the ballot.”

Webb says the Justice Center is his top priority, but hasn’t said whether he will endorse any of the other projects. His aide, Andrew Hudson, however, says all of the requests won’t be presented to the voters this fall.

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