Hesitate To Emulate

I know, and you know, there is a contingent here in Longmont that wants to be Boulder Jr. Some of these seem to feel Boulder can do no wrong and that they walk on water. We also have a councilmember who works for the Boulder Valley School District who tells us we shouldn’t speak ill (” smack?”) of our neighbor to the southwest. But if some of us are going to look up to this city and their ways, we must also acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them, and not repeat them.

Previously, I mentioned the Twin Peaks Mall, and the path that it is on, which is similar in some ways to what happened in Boulder. Are we going to follow that example and see a slow bleed, years of dormancy, and a resurrection that was long overdue? Or are we going to learn from Boulder’s mistakes and avoid losing years of sales tax revenue, along with an eyesore in a high visibility area?

Another somewhat similar scenario is developing on Longmont’s eastern boundary. The “no growth” or “slow growth” seems to be more of a Castle Longmont mentality. Instead of a moat of water and alligators, or burning oil, this wished-for version is untouched, undeveloped, open space. Boulder County even tried to take land from Weld County as open space (paid with Boulder County taxpayer money, but not technically IN Boulder County) to stop development and continue this hoped-for buffer.

This concept costs a lot of money. This is prime real estate on a heavily traveled highway between I-25 and Longmont. It also takes a lot of influence on Weld County, which Boulder and Longmont don’t seem to have. Longmont turned away a large development ( Lifebridge), preceded by public trashing of the present and future Super Walmarts, and the message was sent that Longmont is somewhat closed for business and has gone protectionist and isolationist.

The message was heard, and Firestone’s (or Mead’s or anyone else in Weld County) reaction is the consequence. ” You turn them away in a prime area? We’ll be more than happy to fill the void“, was basically the response. A “void” is exactly what some in Longmont wanted, at the expense of landowners in Weld County who sit on solid gold along Hwy 119.

Mission accomplished, Longmont could easily now be cut-off and isolated, but probably not in the way some had wished. How is this similar to Boulder? Think Broomfield. Think FlatIron Crossing.

There is much to like about Boulder, but it isn’t infallible in its decisions and policy making. Try as some may to emulate Boulder, there is a huge difference that shouldn’t be overlooked: Longmont can’t afford to make the same above mistakes Boulder made; we don’t have the finances, influence, or political capital to blunder on their level.

I’m hoping that in 6-7 years we aren’t looking at a boarded up, fenced-in mall, and booming financial activity just OUTSIDE our sales tax collecting grasp. All sectors of the city will suffer from the choices that bring us to that. The time to realize it and act is NOW. Those on council or committees (past and present) may be term-limited out by then, but some of us will never let people forget who brought us to that point.

Time to choose your legacy.