Melendez: Growth will bring wonderful opportunities, and many challenges
July 1, 2017
First, I want to congratulate Windsor Now on this milestone! We're proud to have a media outlet in Windsor that is invested in providing our community local news.
Looking back over the last 10 years, I am amazed at the transformation that has occurred in our town — the most obvious being growth.
We've welcomed nearly 10,000 residents in 10 years, growing from almost 17,000 residents in 2007 to more than 26,000 by the end of this year.
As a fourth generation Windsor resident and your representative for more than seven years, I can understand why growth can be met with mixed emotions.
“Community members move here for the same reasons my family has been here for five generations. Our outstanding schools and public facilities. Our safety. Our sense of community. It’s hard to keep a treasure hidden for long!
I recall the days when all of our shopping was downtown and we had a movie theater (504 Main St.) and indoor skating rink (in the downstairs of the American Legion). When you went into a store the shopkeeper knew your name or at least one of your family members and everyone was addressed formally as Mr. or Mrs.
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Community members move here for the same reasons my family has been here for five generations. Our outstanding schools and public facilities. Our safety. Our sense of community. It's hard to keep a treasure hidden for long!
We've proven that with thoughtful and proactive leadership, growth can be used as a positive tool that provides our community opportunities we might never have had.
As a town, we've invested more than $21 million in taxpayer dollars into capital projects over the last 10 years, including the new police station, Community Recreation Center, the Public Works Service Facility, Boardwalk Park improvements, and the addition of seven parks. We instituted new railroad crossing safety measures and established the railroad Quiet Zone.
Our downtown has been rejuvenated and will continue to burgeon with the opening of The Mill, bringing new businesses and jobs. Since 2011, we've recorded more than $200 million of private investment, which resulted in 2,000 new jobs.
We won't stop in our commitment to you, Windsor. We recognize that while growth has brought many wonderful opportunities to our town and region, it also presents many challenges for the future.
Smart growth was an underlying theme in the development of the town's 2016-18 Strategic Plan (windsorgov.com/strategicplan). Over the course of the life of this plan, two of our performance commitments to focus on proactive growth are: 1) Thoughtful Framework and Supportive Infrastructure; and 2) Prosperous Local Economy.
We want to ensure that we have the infrastructure and services in place to support us now and in the future — everything from shoring up water resources and roadways to municipal broadband and a strong and diverse economy.
On the other side of the coin is the preservation of the Windsor we all know and love — the reason we chose this as our home. We look to do this by providing the Strategic Plan performance commitment of Diverse Desirable Recreation and Cultural Opportunities, as well as fostering a Safe, Well-Planned Community with Spirit and Pride.
Housing is a critical component to every community. We're on pace for another record breaking year for single-family building permits. But, like the rest of the state, we are faced with affordable housing challenges and senior housing needs.
We've made some progress through the Windsor Housing Authority and the opening of Windsor Meadows, a workforce housing apartment complex, but it is not enough. We plan to review our policies and recent data to understand our housing gaps and needs. We want to provide all Windsor residents an opportunity to thrive.
As you know, recreation is important to Coloradans. Recreation is a conduit for building relationships and a close-knit community. We support this through events, programs, and upkeep of our miles of trails, the scenic Cache La Poudre Heritage Area, our historic downtown, and our many parks and open space areas. We look to continue hosting free community events, like our Summer Concert Series, Movies in the Park and Farmers Market, which provide us a chance to gather together.
We update our strategic plan every two years. This allows us to be agile and respond to the fast-paced changes that are occurring in our region. We will look to you for feedback next year to shape the new plan.
Whether you moved here yesterday or 10 years ago, I am confident that together we can embrace the opportunities growth provides, while purposefully maintaining the community spirit of Windsor we hold dear.
— Kristie Melendez is the mayor of Windsor.