Oct 292009
Authors: Vince Crespin

Community leaders and residents suggested the addition of trolleys to Old Town and creating a mass directory of businesses and landmarks along the Mason Street Corridor Thursday night as part of a stakeholders meeting Thursday evening.

With the CSU campus being one of three districts of focus for the organization known as UniverCity Connections, the forum it hosted Thursday evening at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center featured many ideas to improve the university along with the two other districts: Old Town and the Poudre River.

The forum, which was dubbed the Fall Stake Holder Event, invited citizens, business owners and others with positions held in their own communities to come and brainstorm ideas to connect the three districts in new ways that would be beneficial to each.

With about 150 volunteers and community members in attendance, the city and university made it clear that building strong relationships between the two entities is important to the continual growth of each.

CSU President Tony Frank, who was unable to attend the event, recorded a video message to address the crowd of Fort Collins residents and leaders.

“UniverCity has a strong commitment from CSU to help further this relationship,” Frank said in his video address.

Doug Johnson, a member of UniverCity Connections, encouraged the crowd to be as forthcoming as possible.

“We brought you here today to be a catalyst for new ideas,” Johnson said.

Dave Edwards, co-chair and one of the original founders of UniverCity Connections, said that the original goal for the organization was to improve relationships. But it since has evolved into something much more significant.

Edwards said the whole initiative began when former CSU President Larry Penley and Atteberry discussed ways to progressively improve relationships between all of Fort Collins and the university. Yet, when Johnson caught wind of it, he suggested they focus on specific districts within city limits, those being the CSU campus, Old Town and the Poudre.

Johnson said that the three districts are all reliant upon each other, but CSU has more potential than the others.

“The university has a unique quality that can help revitalize both Old Town and the Poudre with the type of people it brings to our city,” Johnson said.

Past UniverCity Connections initiatives include: FortZed, Homer 2020 and the Angel Investment tax credit. FortZed, which is designed to help conserve energy, was sold as a way to make the three districts a carbon neutral area.

In order to combat high energy use, during summer months when many residents are using air conditioning, FortZed prompted the use of smart-grid technology — alternative energy source such as wind and solar power — to provide the city with 50 mega watts of energy.

Homer 2020, an initiative to end homelessness in Fort Collins by the year 2020, plans to create more jobs, shelters and opportunities for those less fortunate to move off the sidewalks.

Angel Investment tax credit encourages people to invest in businesses started by CSU students and Fort Collins citizens.

The funding for UniverCity projects comes from five different sources: The City of Fort Collins, The Bohemian Foundation, CSU, Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and the Downtown Development Authority, which share the costs equally.

Staff writer Vince Crespin can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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