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City leaders tout successes, talk future in State of the City address

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By Sean Kennedy

What began as an address by Mayor Ken Kreutzer turned into a presentation by city leaders at the State of the City event at the Armory May 16. 

Kreutzer, City Manager Philip Rodriguez and Brighton city council members spoke about the success certain city projects enjoyed in 2018 and laid out an ambitious plan for 2019 and beyond. 

Kreutzer began the program with some thoughts on public service. Telling a story from his fifth-grade year, Kreutzer recounted how he and a friend, George, started a club together. They collected 20 cents in dues from each other, held elections, but ultimately disbanded the club by the afternoon after failing to draw any other members, many potential recruits of which opted to join a larger club run by a more popular classmate. 

Kreutzer said the minor debacle was an example of the importance of community buy-in to government. 

“Without members, there’s no reason to be a leader,” Kreutzer said. “Without citizens, there’s no reason to have a city council.”

Kreutzer then invited Rodriguez on stage, who introduced a video presentation discussing some of the city’s accomplishments in 2018, including the organizational strategic plan that was adopted by council in May 2018, redevelopment of the K-Mart near U.S. Highway 85 and Bromley Avenue, the Vision Zero traffic safety program, the Brighton Investment Program, RecPlay Mondays programming at the Brighton Recreation Center, the opening of five new parks, the completion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, acquisition of the Depot building, the unveiling of an online budget transparency tool, the execution and completion of the 75-Day Work Plan, the purchase of new water meters and the formation of sexual assault task force partnership between Brighton police and other police departments in region. 

Kreutzer then shifted discussion to 2019. He noted that the city’s 2019 budget is 4 percent higher than last year and said that 2019 will see the completion of the Interstate 76 roundabout, in addition to other repairs and enhancements to city streets.

“We will conitnue to make school zone and pedestrian safety a priority,” Kreutzer said.

Infrastructure and growth was a major theme of Kreutzer’s discussion of 2019. He listed several projects and programs to be undertaken and introduced this year, including the construction of the Colorado Front Range bike trail through Ken Mitchell Park to the E-470 connection to the Adams County trail that runs out to Cherry Creek Reservoir, the upgrade and renovation of Colorado Park and the “enhancement of gateways” in the downtown plaza. 

He highlighted work on the historic train depot as one of the most meaningful projects.

“This one means a lot to me personally,” Kreutzer said. “I have a lot of precious memories of the depot, and I think it means a lot to the community.” 

Policywise, he said to expect continued community outreach by the police department and recruitment of additional officers to keep up with growth. He said that business growth and expansion will continue to be a focus in 2019 and highlighted a need to update the city’s building and construction codes, which haven’t been updated since 2013. 

Talk then shifted to the future, specifically, city council’s ambitious goals outlined in their ‘Vision 2020’ plan. Per Kreutzer, the Vision 2020 plan is a series of projects council intends to fund with the revenue from oil and gas development fees they have been saving up for multiple years. 

Vision 2020 will focus on police enhancement, the construction of a new municipal services building, lane expansion on sections of Bridge Street and accessibility enhancements to city sidewalks and roadways to enhance pedestrians’ ease of access.

Part of the Vision 2020 goals includes: 

• hiring six new police officers; 

• building a new facility to bring municipal services all over town into one location;

• a desire to Bridge Street, including additinal lanes in what is now a congested, two-lane areas; and

• improving connection network to enhance accessibility for the handicapped.

A short video from councilman provided the agenda’s closing remarks.

“Brighton is like a small town with bigger city amenities,” said Ward 2 Councilman Greg Mills.

“You never have to go to Denver for anything except pro sports,” added Ward $ Councilman Mark Humbert.

Ward 3 Councilman Clint Blackhurst said Brighton has a “really nice feel.”

“I love that it’s not too small and not too big, even though we’ve tripled since 1985,” he said.

Ward 1 Councilman Kirby Wallin’s highlights were the open space and recreation areas that are available  “and most of all the people.”

Ward 2 Councilman Mary Ellen Pollack said the parks were a favorite of hers.

“It’s the people and the city employees that make Brighton,” said Ward 3 Councilman Lynn Baca.

“Brighton still has a hometown feel and a friendly atmopshere,” said Mayor Pro Tem J.W. Edwards.