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Mayor's Year-end Report for 2003

2003: A Year of Progress

Happy New Year! As we look forward to the promise of great things in 2004, I would like to share achievements and reflections of the past year with you. Despite the sluggish economy, Longmont made great progress in 2003, completing many projects - including some that have been in the works for several years.

TRANSPORTATION

City Council with other CDOT officials at the Ken Pratt Blvd. Grand OpeningPerhaps the City's most noticeable accomplishment in was the completion of the Highway 119/Ken Pratt Boulevard extension project. After years of planning, we filled the "missing link" between Highway 287 and I-25. Construction began in December 2001 and the road opened on December 2, 2003. Traffic congestion in the downtown area has already declined dramatically and time savings are obvious to commuters traveling across town. Thanks to the residents of Longmont who support the transportation tax, we will be able to continue to reduce congestion and keep the roads in good repair through proactive, multi-modal transportation projects.!

City leaders continued to negotiate with RTD to include commuter rail service that would extend to Longmont from Boulder and Denver's Union Station (using the existing BNF tracks) under the RTD FasTracks proposal. The program will require additional funding through a tax increase, therefore a vote of the people, expected on this November's ballot. Passage of this program will improve transportation options and provide congestion and pollution relief for Longmont residents.

Transportation at the neighborhood level was considered as well - in May 2003 the City updated the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Plan. This plan allows residents to be involved in identifying traffic problems in their neighborhood and working with the City to resolve rather than assuming a one-size-fits-all solution.

In 2004 we are looking forward to completing a multi-modal transportation master plan as well as working with RTD on the assessment for the commuter rail corridor.

PLANNING

Vance Brand Municipal AirportCompleted in August 2003, the update to the City's Comprehensive Land Use Plan was an 18-month-long process that involved literally hundreds of individuals and community groups. The Plan strikes a balance between the many times competing goals of quality of life, economic strength, efficient transportation and other community concerns.

The Airport Master Plan was also updated this year. With its adoption, the goal to provide efficient services for the flying public while continuing to be a good neighbor to the surrounding neighborhoods is served. Strategies to monitor and limit noise pollution were devised as well as hanger and runway size were considered.

During 2004, planning will focus on a Citywide Strategic Planning Process and Main Street Redevelopment.

WATER

City Council at the New Water Treatment Plant GroundbreakingAs the drought deepened in Colorado during 2002 and early 2003, the Water/Wastewater Department continued implementation of the Drought Response Plan. City residents have save enormous amounts of water that helped maintain City reservoir supplies at near capacity. In addition, we continue to work on water conservation measures and education programs that will continue into 2004.

The City's new Water Treatment Facility is another project that we broke ground on this September but had been worked toward for many years. When completed in 2006, the plant will treat 30 million gallons per day. The plant can be expanded to a capacity that will meet our drinking water demands for the next 20 years. In 2004, the City's water planners will be completing an update to our raw water master plan. This plan lays the foundation to ensure water provision for Longmont's future needs as the City reaches full buildout.

NEIGHBORHOODS

Lake MacIntosh Master PlanAs a community we are all concerned with maintaining the quality of life and enhancing neighborhoods in Longmont. One of the significant additions to our park system in 2003 was the completion of the Lake McIntosh Master Plan. The Plan proposes to preserve and enhance wildlife habitats, minimizes the development of man-made structures, maintains views and provides passive recreation opportunities such as non-motorized boating, fishing, walking/biking and picnicking that are compatible with the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Truly a collaboration between the City, the neighborhoods and interested residents, construction of Phase 1 is scheduled for spring 2004.

The City also acquired land for three neighborhood parks and one community park including the Fall River neighborhood park (east Longmont), Spring Valley neighborhood park (east Longmont), Meadow Mountain neighborhood park (southwest Longmont) and Sisters of St. Francis community park (south Longmont). In addition, the City acquired 380 additional acres of open space toward the buffer around the City.

RECREATION AND CULTURE

Checking in at the Longmont Recreation CenterIn 2003, the Longmont Recreation Center completed its first full year of operation with annual attendance estimated at more than 330,000. The success of the Center continues to exceed all expectations.

Roosevelt Park also continues to be improved and enhanced. With many programs offered to older adults at the Senior Center, swimming for all ages Roosevelt activity pool and winter skating at the Ice Pavilion, Roosevelt Park continues to thrive with public activity.

The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center also continues to draw large crowds. The Museum's nine exhibits this year included a Japanese print and sculpture show and a Latin Jazz exhibit from the Smithsonian - it's only appearance in Colorado and one of ten nation-wide.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Providing affordable housing continues to be a priority for the City. Through various programs, including the Bilingual housing Fair, the Community Housing program and the Down Payment Assistance Program, many families in our community receive the help they need to meet the expense of housing. The goal in 2004 is to make these programs more accessible to greater numbers of people.

Folklorico Dancers perform at the Longmont Museum and Cultural CenterWith the help of a $100,000 neighborhood revitalization grant, the residents of the Kensington neighborhood in east Longmont joined together to identify areas of concern and opportunity for their neighborhood. But rather than relying on government to tell them how to solve their issues, the residents have worked together to identify possible strategies and solutions. One of the first results is new lighting is being installed in some areas to improve safety and several cleanup projects have been done. This project will continue in 2004.

Participants working with the Multi-Cultural Community Strategic Plan sponsored several events in 2003 including the Festiva de las Culturas, the Dieciseis de Septiembre celebration in the Kensington neighborhood and several business-related topics in a seminar series for Latino business owners. The five-year plan is to assist the City into becoming a multi-cultural, inclusive community - proud to embrace, respect and celebrate each other. More outreach efforts are planned for 2004.

LPC Worker Climbing a Utility PoleLONGMONT POWER AND COMMUNICATIONS (LPC)

In its 91st year of operation, LPC is a community-owned, non-profit electric and telecommunications utility that operates under the direction of City Council. We are proud that LPC provides Longmont residents with very reliable service and one of the lowest electrical rates in Colorado and the nation. Although the Council did approve the first rate increase to some commercial and industrial customers for the first time in ten years, we continue to be one of the lowest cost providers in the state. In 2004 LPC will implement a plan to improve circuit capacity in new neighborhoods, and reduce light pollution and improve illumination in the City's street lights.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Longmont Police Officer on patrolThis past summer brought an outbreak of West Nile Virus. Preparations began in early spring with applications of larvicide to standing water in an attempt to minimize the mosquito population to the greatest extent possible. Even with these efforts, Longmont was forced to combat the virus-carrying mosquitoes with chemical spray over six nights. The program was estimated to be over 90 percent effective and may have saved lives in the process. The City again plans to take this proactive approach in the treatment of mosquitoes in spring 2004.

The Police Department conducted a community-wide workshop in November to update its overall strategic plan. Specific strategies identified include partnering with education and business institutions to enhance staff development, increase forensic evidence capability and develop and implement a crime trend forecasting program. To help implement these strategies the Police Department is adding 3 additional patrol officers to the force in 2004.

Firefighter Rick VanderVelde with dalmations, Photo by Lewis GeyerThe PD also opened its newest substation at Stonehedge Place, an east side housing complex. The collaboration between the neighborhood and the Police Department signaled a new era in community policing efforts where citizens, businesses and police work together to improve the quality of life where they live, work and play.

The Fire Department selected a site at 1st and Martin for the new Training Center, which includes a training tower, burn building and drafting pit (to test water hoses and pumps). A designer will be selected in 2004 and it is expected that the burn building will be completed by fall. The facility will be used to train firefighters from Longmont and Boulder County.

As I look back on the past year, I can say that although we were forced to continue budget cuts and decreased services in some areas, 2003 was a productive and exciting year in many ways. I thank our 800-plus employees who rededicated themselves to excellence in spite of lesser resources. I also congratulate Longmont residents for the resourcefulness that they have shown in the face of many challenges and for their successes this past year. This spirit of collaboration, giving and patience, even in lean times, bodes well for our future. I wish for each of you a happy and productive New Year.

Mayor Julia Pirnack