My one-year anniversary and what a year it has been

By Guest Columnist Chris Kirk

The Surveyor

On Jan. 22, 2019, my one-year anniversary as the town administrator for the Town of Berthoud passed. What a year it has been. After my first month here, I wrote an article for the newspaper thanking and praising the people I had met and the staff of the town. I believed then the people of Berthoud were generally warm, welcoming, and had a great desire to make Berthoud an even better place to live. As a resident of the town and as the town administrator, I’m happy to say that still rings true today.

That’s not to say there haven’t been ups and downs. There have been intense conversations at town board meetings and in various other physical and electronic gathering places about the right future for the town. I believe that’s going to happen in any town where people are proud of where they live. I think it’s safe to say we all want Berthoud to get even better in the coming years. We want a safe place to live, a place where there are opportunities to grow personally and professionally, and a place of which we can be proud. Coming up with – and agreeing on – the ways to accomplish those things is usually where competing ideas begin. 

One issue that has generated some vigorous debate is the possible construction of a recreation center on the Waggener Farm Park property at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Berthoud Parkway. Since the ballot measure to increase sales taxes for recreation passed in November, there has been a lot of talk about how to proceed with this new funding. Regardless of the decision to finance the project or not finance the project, the town will be building some significant recreation improvements in 2019 and 2020. Later this year we hope to break ground on a project to create public access and walking trails at Berthoud Reservoir. We are also replacing outdated playground equipment at Bein Park and Town Park. We will be constructing new trails to create a north/south backbone trail connecting to planned regional trails. We are working with local developers to build miles of new trails through developments and in currently closed open space areas. Thankfully, we don’t need to finance these projects, and I believe all of that will continue regardless of whether we build new athletic fields and a recreation center.

The decision about whether to finance and construct a recreation center and athletic fields will ultimately be made by your elected board of trustees. They will make that decision with the most information I can provide them, with the help of an awesome town staff and expert consultants working in the field of recreation. I believe strongly they will make that decision based upon what they believe will benefit the community the most, even if they don’t all agree on what that is. As the town administrator, I will not recommend constructing a project we can’t afford to build or operate and maintain.

This vision still needs to come into focus, and no final decisions have been made. Over the next several months the town will continue to refine it with input from those who want to participate in the conversation. Consistent with direction from the town board, town staff will be working with architects, engineers, the town PORT (Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Trails) committee, and the town board to finalize that vision and its associated costs so a good decision can be made.

I hope if you feel strongly about this issue, regardless of which side of the issue you are on, you will choose to get the facts and participate in the conversation. Rather than looking only for information that supports your view, I’m also hopeful you’ll approach the issue with an open mind and do so with that same love for Berthoud that I’ve felt from this community since I got here. It’s what makes Berthoud great, and it’s what will help us overcome our differences of opinion so the next residents of Berthoud can feel warmly welcomed to an incredible town like I have. If you ever have any questions about this, or anything else going on in town, my door is always open. You can reach me at town hall, by phone at 970-344-5819, or by email at [email protected]

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