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 December 3, 1999

Looking Ahead: Dreams, visions set tomorrow’s course

What our area will look and act like over the next years is best presented by what might be possible and what would be cool. This kind of a presentation should be considered fun, thought-provoking and maybe a little inspiring.

The first area I’d like to play with is transportation. As the area around the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport continues to develop, I think the need to move the airport is not far off. A regional airport northeast of Fort Collins, serving Cheyenne, Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, would provide more than enough of a base to have excellent commercial air service to Salt Lake City, Kansas City and points beyond.

While we are on airports, watch for the Downtown Airport to be transformed into a new development.

I think that if the city would lose it’s fixation on busses, it is possible for Fort Collins to be a leader in providing the most technologically advanced forms of mass transit.

The options are out there in the development stages. I think in this area more than any other, it is time for Fort Collins to stop beating our chests about how cool we are and put some action behind our words. A great location for some new “stuff” could be on Mason Street. I think that Mason Street could be the answer to relieving what will otherwise be total gridlock on College Avenue during many times of the day.

I think it is possible that a northeast bypass will become a reality north of Douglas road. My concern is similar to the O.J. trial, though. After he won, he said, “I’m going to dedicate my life to finding Nicole’s killer” — and he hasn’t been off the golf course since. I hope that the Citizens for A True Bypass will lead the way to where the road can go, now that we have said where it can’t go.

Overall, I think Fort Collins can manage its transportation needs for maximum mobility, but not if we decide to do the same things the same ways and expect different results.

The next area that holds potential for great change is taxation. The Internet and e-commerce have just started to change our lives. The impact on sales-tax collections is going to be intense. So intense that I think sales taxes will become an archaic form of taxation.

The Unites States has not been able to figure out how to tax catalog sales. How in the world do we think we will ever get our hands around Internet sales! I think it’s possible that government will cling to sales taxes when we should be developing a contingency tax plan now for a tax that I think will not be relevant in 10 years.

I hope it’s possible that a statewide “debrucing” could occur soon. I question the wisdom of having crumbling infrastructure in our schools, institutions of higher learning and highways on one hand and giving a small tax refund back on the other.

We have given the state permission to collect the taxes. It is now time to let the state keep the money and reinvest it our infrastructure.

Redevelopment of the downtown river corridor has the possibility of being the greatest addition to Fort Collins since Colorado State University opened its doors. It will be a classic addition to our community.

My vision for the river in the downtown area includes families fishing on the banks and families watching a minor-league baseball game that they can access from the river trail system. I see families having many options for cultural events in amphitheaters, parks and new facilities all accessible from the river trail system, and yes, I see new open-space lands in the downtown corridor managed in a way that keeps the primary habitants wildlife, not indigents.

Retail in Northern Colorado will change dramatically. The Interstate 25 corridor near Loveland will present huge challenges to Fort Collins’ status as the retail center of Northern Colorado.

When the 2000 census data comes out, Northern Colorado will become attractive to a new set of retailers. Some upscale stores will begin to look at Northern Colorado, not just Fort Collins. I think it is possible that we will not get upscale shopping in Fort Collins, but in Loveland, if we don’t get proactive.

I believe that we will rethink how we are going to grow in Fort Collins. The goal today is to be a smaller, more-compact city. While the city is strapping the proverbial girdle on our size, we are bulging out into Windsor, Loveland and Larimer County. The fear is sprawl if we aren’t compact.

I would rather be a larger planned community with choices, than a smaller compact city surrounded and confined by other cities that offer the choices we should be providing in the first place. I agree that there is no perfect answer, but we should have conversations about how to grow, not debates.

Fort Collins is a great place, and I hope it always will be. I think that all new input models are going to need to be developed in order to better collect the diversity of ideas and opinions that we have on just about any given subject.

We have a good strong proactive city government that may be hindered by input models that are no longer relevant.

It’s fun to contemplate the future of a dynamic, changing community such as Fort Collins. In truth, though, it is more about what is possible for our future than what is probable from our past. And as the old saying goes: “We are going to have a future, it is up to us to figure out what it is going to be.”

Mike Hauser is president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.

What our area will look and act like over the next years is best presented by what might be possible and what would be cool. This kind of a presentation should be considered fun, thought-provoking and maybe a little inspiring.

The first area I’d like to play with is transportation. As the area around the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport continues to develop, I think the need to move the airport is not far off. A regional airport northeast of Fort Collins, serving Cheyenne, Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, would provide more than enough of a base to have excellent commercial air…

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