Booming Berthoud busy, in good financial shape
Berthoud Town Administration Chris Kirk spoke with the Surveyor at length last week, outing a great deal of information related the growth and development in town, progress at the large-scale Waggener Farm Park project and the upcoming comprehensive plan.
Kirk refuted rumors that have been circulating around town that the recreation center project at Waggener Farm Park was having trouble. “There are no problems, it’s gone incredibly smoothly thus far,” Kirk said, saying the project is both on-budget and on-schedule. Kirk said the construction progress thus far has gone smoothly, the entire foundation has been laid and the walls currently being erected are where the aquatics facility will be located. The parking lot area is also completed.
Kirk said the areas where the soccer field will be placed have been graded and will be laid with grass sod in the spring as soon as the weather allows. Kirk did say they had hoped to lay the sod this fall, hoping to allow it to get more established over winter but that did not come pass. Regardless, he believes the fields will be ready for use when the entire project has been completed.
The rec center itself will likely be managed and staffed by an outside entity, one that operates recreation centers all over the country. Kirk said the town is currently in negotiations with the firm and stated their expertise will make the rec center run more efficiently than
“We’re talking to a company right now that might provide management services to us at a lesser cost than we could, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they pay less for employees than we would and they have the benefit of expertise of running facilities all over the country,” Kirk said. “Their organizational staffing model is similar to what we would do.”
Kirk said he foresees “about 10 or 12” full time or regular part-time positions needed at the rec center and the remainder of the staff – such as lifeguards and custodial staff – will be part-time, seasonal positions. On the cost for using the facility, Kirk said, “Our initial estimates are for a family membership will be about $60 a month and daily use will be about $5 a day.”
He further explained that the rec center will almost assuredly require a subsidy from the town to cover operational costs, but that has been budgeted already in the planning process and he does not see the town having to dip into the general fund or 1998 sales tax revenue fund to cover the costs; all expenses will be paid for through the new sales tax approved by voters in 2018.
Regarding other parks and recreation projects in town, Kirk said the first phase of the project at Berthoud Reservoir is complete, the restroom facility, the dock, the fencing and trails work progressed as planned but the town ran into some trouble getting a power supply connected as there was a dispute as to whether the facility would be serviced by Xcel Energy or the Poudre Valley REA. After some discussion, Xcel Energy provided the needed connection.
The next project the town will begin will be the renovation at Town Park. Kirk said he will present the plan to the board along with the budget at the next regular Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 10. “We have money included in our draft budget that we will present to the board on Nov. 10 for the redesign of Town Park,” Kirk said and explained the baseball fields currently in place adjacent to the park will remain and that the current pool will be replaced with a splash pad type amenity that will have a “natural feel.” Kirk expressed optimism that the design of the project will be well received by town residents. The plan is to begin work on Town Park in 2021.
Financially and from an infrastructure perspective, Kirk said the town is in great shape. Tax revenue has not taken a hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to more people having to shop locally and shop online, both of which result sales tax being remitted to the town coffers. “The advantage of growth is that it drives change in the community and it provides resources we wouldn’t have otherwise … the rec center wouldn’t be feasible without the growth we’ve had, the trails we’ve constructed, the enhancements to our water and waste water infrastructure, our road maintenance,” Kirk said. “Our community is driven entirely by the people that live here and without growth it can really stifle the town’s ability to operate and provide new amenities and improved amenities.”
Kirk said the growth in town over the last several years has been of great benefit, saying,
On current infrastructure, Kirk said, “Our water infrastructure is in really great shape, our waste water infrastructure has been continually enhanced over the last few years and it’s in really great shape, we have a significant amount of raw water available to us, we do not have a water problem … we have a great water portfolio, it’s diversified, we are not wholly reliant on one kind of water.”
Kirk wanted to clear up a misconception he perceives by saying the town does not actively prospect for specific types of retail saying, “There is some misunderstanding that the town has some control over what retail builds here and what retail doesn’t,” Kirk said and added that the primary interest, particularly in zoned commercial areas on northwest side of town, are for convenience retail and fast food type establishments.
On commercial growth, Kirk said, “We’ve had a lot of interest but we don’t have a lot of premier retail ground and the reality is, especially with COVID, the retail market has changed pretty significantly and really the only things that are expressing a lot of interest are convenience-oriented, fast-casual dining, drive-thru, quick serve dining, convenience retail.”
The next comprehensive plan is currently in its final draft, with some changes and adjustments still being discussed and considered, and Kirk will present the plan to the town board in early 2021. Kirk explained he was very pleased with the amount of feedback the town received when it solicited public opinion saying, “This needs to be a community-driven comp plan … we have had a lot of participation.” Kirk said the comp plan is critically important saying, “This is the vision for the future, that’s what the comp plan is, it’s the articulated vision of what Berthoud looks like 20 years from now, it’s a really important planning document that really sets the terms for what we do from here on forward.
“I feel really confident that what we present as a draft is something that everyone is going to be really happy with. The feedback we got from the surveys really, frankly, confirmed a lot of what we already knew, there were not any real surprises,” Kirk explained.
Kirk said that as growth in town continues the road networks will receive continued upgrades but also expressed, relative to surrounding communities, Berthoud’s road network is in excellent shape. The plan will be to connect Spartan Ave. all the way across the southern portion of town to County Line Road at the southern border of the Farmstead development. A new railroad crossing will be needed and that the town is working with BNSF on the plans for the crossing.
Kirk said as the town continues to grow, he expects the town to get younger overall, stating that new homes are usually purchased by young families. He explained that, contrary to the view of some, that the town does not pursue growth simply to drive increases in revenue. Said Kirk, “We are not in the revenue business … we tell developers all the time ‘I’m not in the revenue business, I’m not interested in working with you on a development we don’t believe enhances the community just for the sake of cash.”
Kirk explained that, as the town continues to grow, there will be unforeseen needs that arise but expressed confidence the town is prepared for many different contingencies.
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