Jan 302007
Authors: James Holt

Leaders stressed “sustainable progress” in their State of the City address at City Hall Tuesday night.

“A year ago we talked about change,” said Doug Hutchinson, Fort Collins mayor. “We’re back to tell you how those changes have brought about progress.”

More than 100 people gathered to hear their city leaders report both on what was done in the last year and what is planned for the next.

Central to the planning were a robust economy, healthy environment and vibrant community.

“It’s no secret that our region is changing,” Hutchinson said. “But what might not be so obvious is that Fort Collins is changing, too. Many good things are happening in Fort Collins and I expect 2007 will bring more of the same.”

Hutchinson first addressed the city’s economy and budget challenges.

“I guess the city is in financial woes,” said two year resident Seth Hanson.

The mayor did not shy away from the issue.

“We want Fort Collins to be an environment for business and economy to succeed,” Hutchinson said.

He acknowledged the $2.3 million shortfall for 2007 and the $5.8 million budget gap.

“The years of double-digit revenue growth in Fort Collins are over,” Hutchinson said, adding that city services were most affected.

But he stressed that in the end, we have a more sustainable solution.

“Nothing is placed in the budget unless it has a direct link to service,” he said. “We have a commitment to delivering high quality and efficient services.”

Hutchinson also discussed the environment.

“We’re among the nation’s elite when it comes to green building,” he said. “We must continue to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

Hugh Mackay, a 34-year resident of Fort Collins, expressed concern about the water flow of the Poudre River.

“We can’t really control the flow,” Hutchinson said, but added: “We view the Poudre as a very valuable asset.”

Hutchinson and City Manager Darin Atteberry also described several future projects. Among them were a new recreation center, a new museum and science center and a new police facility.

Of particular interest to students was the University Connections program. The program aims to spread Old Town from the CSU campus to the Poudre River, giving students easier access to the businesses, dining and cultural programs of Old Town.

“We’re doing a unique partnership with the university,” Hutchinson said.

But the mayor gave the most attention to the Mason Corridor project, saying that its possibilities are fantastic.

“It’s basically the spine of our future transit system,” said Mark Jackson, interim transportation services director. “So you can get anywhere you want in the city.”

Hutchinson said many of these projects are already paid for and that taxes and fees are a last resort he doesn’t anticipate.

Hutchinson is seeking an election to a second term.

“I personally think that’s a very important issue as well,” he joked.

Some interviewed after the address regarded the speech positively.

“Out of the four years I’ve been here, I’m most hopeful for this year,” said Sadie Conrad, vice president of ASCSU.

Also in attendance were Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, both Fort Collins Democrats.

“We live in a great city,” Kefalas said. “There’s always room for improvement, but we’re making great progress.”

Ted Borstad, a 21-year resident, captured the night in summary.

“I liked that fact that they kept the environment, economy and the community in balance.” Borstad said. “You keep those three in balance, you’ve got a pretty good place to live.”

Staff writer James Holt can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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