Trustees engage in strategic planning

By Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

Strategic planning and long term visioning efforts by the Berthoud trustees took a step or two forward this week as a result of the board members meeting for a brainstorming session Tuesday evening.

Claire Thomas and her colleague Liz Cassi, both of Slate Communications, a marketing and public relations firm hired by the town, facilitated the meeting.

The session began with the trustees breaking into two groups, with town staff members floating freely between the groups to give information or answer questions from the trustees. The trustees were instructed to look at the issues they were assigned from a very high level and not get involved in the fine details of how a particular vision they presented might be accomplished.

Group one, composed of Trustees Suzie White, Chris Buckridge and Jan Dowker, was given the task of focusing on future recreational amenities, infrastructure needs, and town character/economic development philosophy.

Group two, comprised of Mayor David Gregg and Trustee Mike Henning, discussed attainable (not just affordable) housing, primary employment, and the vitality of the downtown area.

Trustees Jennifer Baker and Paul Alaback were unable to attend the session due to schedule conflicts.

Regarding the town’s character and economic development philosophy, the “charm and character” of Berthoud’s old town area needs to be preserved, however it was also acknowledged that a mix of more boutique-type businesses and family restaurants are needed, along with primary employment to support those businesses.

It was also noted that all of the businesses visioned for downtown need not be located on Mountain Avenue; Massachusetts Avenue and Welch Avenue are also viewed as being part of downtown, as are Third Street though Fifth Street.

Parks and recreation Director Jeremy Olinger presented a map of the town and surrounding area which detailed parks and open space currently in the town’s possession. The trail system in and around Berthoud was also outlined on the map.

During discussion it was noted the site for a future recreation center, which would be built in stages or phases, is the north end of Waggener Farm Park. The possibility of developing an area-wide recreation district was also discussed.

The town’s infrastructure (water and wastewater lines, streets and sidewalks) were all mentioned, with emphasis placed on sidewalks. It was noted that town residents should be able to walk on the town’s sidewalks and not have to worry about tripping and falling on a heaved sidewalk.

Attainable and affordable housing for first-time home buyers, as well as the town’s growing senior citizen community were priorities for the group. It was hoped that a good mixture of all levels of housing price points would encourage young professionals and young families to settle in Berthoud.

The group also discussed the lack of primary employment and high-level retail stores in Berthoud. Incentivizing primary employers may be a way to encourage highly sought after primary employers to Berthoud.

The vitality and vibrancy of the downtown area was brought up. The group would like to see more weekly events supported by merchants downtown – perhaps through the creation of an arts district − looking for opportunities to make Berthoud a destination. The revitalization of the Main Street Program was mentioned.

The notes taken during the meeting will be summarized into a formal document which the trustees may find useful as they enter their 2016 budget meetings.