Trustees engage in strategic planning

By Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

The town trustees gave up a large portion of their Saturday on April 11 to take part in a strategic planning session. Ann Hutchison, executive vice-president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, was the facilitator for the event. Also present, and given the roles of listeners rather than direct participants in discussions, were Town Administrator Mike Hart, Walt Elish, the town’s business development manager, and communication consultant Claire Thomas.

Major topics discussed during the session were:

The downtown (old-town) area – Defining what is the area referred to as the downtown or old-town area. Is it just the stores and shops either side of Mountain Avenue, or does it include all of the properties extending from Welch Avenue on the south to Bunyan Avenue on the north? How far west does the “downtown area” extend? What are some ways to encourage the downtown area to be more vibrant?

Collaborating with the local chamber of commerce and historical society, encouraging street festivals on Friday evenings, and seeking other ways to make Berthoud’s downtown a destination for the northern Colorado region, shop-local campaigns to build pride in the community and support for the town merchants, along with keeping a pedestrian-friendly downtown were all discussed.

It was also mentioned no matter what development comes to Berthoud, the current “feel” of the downtown or old-town areas will be preserved. Parking issues in the downtown area will need to be addressed at some point.

With regard to recreation – A recreation district to support a recreation center with an indoor pool found support of the trustees. The first order of business would be to determine the location of the center. A broad campaign extolling the virtues of a healthy lifestyle would need to be launched in order to make a recreation district come to fruition. Starting with a small recreation center and gradually expanding as funds become available was brought into the discussion.

The regional trail tie-in with the proposed trail system at Heron Lakes was viewed as making Berthoud a destination point for outdoor enthusiasts.

Concerning economic development – The trustees were in favor of promoting the agricultural heritage of the town. Encouraging business development at the intersection of Highways 287 and 56, and perhaps establishing a business park at Highway 287. Partnering with area universities to promote technology, especially where technology interfaces with agriculture.

The topic of housing diversity drew considerable attention. A diverse mix of single-family, multi-family, mixed-use housing, affordable housing for first-time homebuyers, along with appropriate housing for senior citizens to make Berthoud a senior friendly community were all issues touched on during discussions. It was generally acknowledged housing in Berthoud was relatively expensive.

The town infrastructure (water, wastewater and street maintenance) was addressed as well. Of primary concern was the maintenance of town streets (potholes).

The trustees broke into small groups for 15 minutes, after being assigned topics to work on, to develop preliminary plans to address the issues they had been assigned.

The general consensus concerning the activities of the day was positive. Hart made the observation that there is quite a difference in the group this year when compared to last year at this time. “For a while (last year) you could see that the team (town board) was a bit scattered,” said Hart, “You guys are back together as a team, and that’s fantastic.”

Concerning the activities of the day, Hart stated, “This is the first time since I have been here that we are going to leave the room and we are going to produce something after we leave here. It is going to be more than an executive summary of what we talked about, but rather a product that will be a living document from year to year.”

Hutchison informed the group she would be getting together with them in about 60 days to follow up with them where they are with the strategic plans they have been assigned to work on.