Friday, November 29, 2013

Governor Hickenlooper's visit to Nederland

Location: 45 West 1st Street, Roosevelt National Forest, Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Mayor Gierlach and Governor Hickenlooper
at Town Hall for the holiday light testing
photo by: Mark Broste from the Governor's Office
I got a call from the state's Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) explaining that Governor Hickenlooper was bringing his family up to Nederland the day after Thanksgiving. It would be the first time a sitting governor visited Nederland in any Nedhead's lifetime. I'd also like to note that he was also Mayor Hickenlooper of Denver. There seems to be a bond among mayors, because Mayoring is a unique perspective. Now, Governor Hickenlooper wanted to see the damage from the 2013 Flood.

"Well", I said, "Our town is so efficient, we've pretty much already repaired the damage, but I'd be happy to show the Governor around." We were also joined by State Senator Rollie Heath and The Community Foundation President, Josie Heath.

We started off with a quick tour of Town Hall. I showed them how we run an entire town out of our little historical building, how the building had been transformed into a more welcoming place for residents, and how our treasurer works on an old door resting on a couple of filing cabinets. We spoke about our GIS database, upgraded water meters, the Comprehensive Plan, Master Infrastructure Plan, and how it all ties in with Envision 2020. To snag some local flavor, we stopped in to the New Moon Bakery & Cafe, and met with mining icon, Tom Hendricks. (You can click on the pictures below for a larger view)

clockwise from top left:
1. Tom Hendricks at New Moon Bakery,  2. watching Tungsten Toffee
being made, 3. Community Center flood recovery,
4. Nederland's Backdoor Theater
photos by: Mark Broste from the Governor's Office
Next, we drove up to the Community Center (along with discreet security from the state patrol). We toured the repairs to the flooded area of the Community Center, but we discussed how the center was used for evacuees, then as a community gathering and informational space during the aftermath, and how it is still providing vital human services for flood victims, and residents in the region. We discussed the energy saving renovation of the building itself and its LEED Gold certification.

We talked about all the programming at the Community Center as well. – Governor Hickenlooper mentioned that the roof in the gym was high enough to play tennis. We talked about how the Nederland Area Seniors organized Pickleball in there. We saw the Yoga/Dance Studio, and looked at the Art at the Center exhibit. We moved on to the kitchen, where Tungsten Toffee was working. Owner, Mary Curcio, told them her story, and the Governor and Senator Heath each bought some toffee. Then, I explained the work of the Nederland Mayor's Task Force on Housing and Human Services as we walked through the West Wing and saw the Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.

I thought that the governor was impressed with the Back Door Theater. He compared our community theater to The Movie Picture Showhouse in Trinidad, CO operating in the renovated Jaffa Opera House. We talked about the new digital equipment, and he even played the old piano in the office. 

Then, the tour moved to the newly built Waste Water Treatment Facility. I explained how we created the most energy efficient facility of its kind on the front range. It has won design awards, and has been featured nationally. I have given several tours of the facility as well as speeches, webinars, and presentations on its features at the Metro Mayors Caucus. Click here for details. Our Waste Water Facility handled the flood infiltration during the storm, which was triple our normal capacity.

clockwise from top left:
1. Waste Water Treatment Facility, 2. Local Authors' books at the
Visitor's Center, 3. ice cream at Blue Owl Books,
4. riding the Carousel of Happiness
photos by: Mark Broste from the Governor's Office
After the Waste Water Facility, we came back to Town Hall and began a walking tour of Downtown Nederland. First stop, the Visitor's Center. Betty Porter and Katrina Harms talked about the impact of the Boulder Flood on transportation and our local economy. He checked out the maps, books by local authors and the award-winning film, Grandpa's Still in the Tuff Shed. We discussed the RTD Park-N-Ride, the popularity of the RTD N Bus, the Nederland Area EcoPass and how important public transportation is to our community.

Then, we were headed to the Carousel of Happiness. As we walked across the bridge, I talked about our Nederland Downtown Development Authority (DDA). There are many Urban Renewal Authorities (URA) and Improvement Districts in Colorado, but I believe there are only twelve DDA's in the state. We spoke about the way our DDA leveraged funding from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) for the controversial bridge. DDA's and Tax Increment Financing may not be appropriate for every city down below, but it's a great financial vehicle for small towns like Nederland. We paused briefly to watch the Middle Boulder Creek as we talked about how many of our trails are used for pedestrian transportation. He saw the layout of the RTD bus stops, bike racks, and crosswalks. We stopped in at Blue Owl books for some ice cream, then walked across the street to the Carousel.

Governor Hickenlooper's family enjoyed the Carousel of Happiness, learned the history, and how they honor veterans every Memorial Day. I introduced him to some business owners. We talked about our two breweries, and his Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. We talked about the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, the B&F, and made our way across the covered bridge and down First Street, visiting Dandelion/Dog House and the Mountain People's Co-Op along the way to Salto Coffee Works. I think he got a sense of the range of old and new businesses. The Co-Op reminded him of a local Co-Op from Middletown, Connecticut back in the 1970's.
[Related StoryThe Carousel of Happiness]
On our way back to Town Hall, walking up Second Street, we talked about owner-occupied small businesses and mixed-use zoning. The conversation came back to the NedPeds Project on Second Street, the Nederland DDA, and the economic impact of the flood. I explained that this is why we are lighting holiday lights for the first time in over 20 years. It will be a big deal for us. (funded by our Downtown Development Authority) While we have been touring the Town, volunteers and Public Works have been installing lights at Town Hall, and on the following day they will install them on the bridges, and Visitor's Center. It is a community-wide effort to bring back economic development from the holiday season – For Skiiers that come to Eldora, to stop in town on the way home from skiing for Apres Ski, or holiday shopping. Even though the official lighting ceremony would be held the following week, I wanted to get a picture with him at dusk when we tested the lights.

The Governor and his family left town, and had dinner at the historic Gold Hill Inn.

I think the governor experienced an overall sense of our community, the partnerships between town staff and our advisory boards, how technology is improving efficiencies, and he understands the critical role volunteers play in our town. All of that was used to recover from the flood. I'm sure he'll enjoy the toffee.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is German music collective Moodorama performing Sweet Toffee (2003). [What is a Video Valediction?]
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...