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Longmont 2006 All America City FinalistCommunity Background and Community Challenge Section

All America City Award, City Manager's Office

View the City of Longmont's All America Cities Application (entire document, pdf file)

View the separate sections of the application which describes our Community.

Part I - Civic Infrastructure

Part II - Community Background and Community Challenge Section

Part III- Community-Driven Projects

Part II:
Community Background and Community Challenge Section

1 (A). Community Background: Set the background for your community. Tell its story. Summarize your
community’s history, successes and struggles. Describe how your community got to where it is today and your community’s current state of affairs. (700 word maximum):

Longmont, the second largest city in Boulder County, has 25 square miles, over 300 days of sunshine, and a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains. In 1871, 400 pioneers established this community in the St. Vrain Valley as the Chicago-Colorado Colony. Their cooperation was so remarkable that in their first year, they built homes, stores, parks, irrigation canals, churches and Longmont’s first library.

Agriculture played an important role in the development of Longmont. Agribusiness became successful in 1903 when area farmers secured the contract for The Great Western Sugar Factory and later built the Kuner-Empson Cannery. A large wave of immigration started in 1910, with Mexicans fleeing the Revolution. The sugar factory brought many of these immigrants to Longmont and they settled in East Longmont and the rural areas around the city.

Longmont transitioned from a small agricultural community in the late 1960’s when high technology firms such as IBM and Storage Technology moved to the area, followed by Maxtor and Seagate. From 1990 to 2000, the City’s population grew by an extraordinary 38% with the influx of industry. Today, Longmont sits at the heart of Colorado’s “Technology Corridor.” In 2001, the Boulder-Longmont high tech corridor was ranked number one in the country for high tech employment. Unfortunately, that same year, our community was hit hard by the national recession. The bottom dropped out of the high tech industry and by the end of 2002, the Longmont area had lost over 3,100 primary sector jobs. From 2000 to 2005, foreclosures in Boulder County increased by a staggering 271%, the nation’s 5th highest. During that same period, we also saw a dramatic 235% increase in the number of homeless in our community. While there is an increasing economic divide among residents of our community, we are working to leave no one behind.

In the 1990s’, Longmont’s Latino population began to grow again and increased by nearly 8,000 people. By the end of 2009, our Latino population could eclipse 24,000 (University of Colorado Geography). Nearly 40% of Longmont’s Latinos were not born in the United States and thus faces language, cultural and educational barriers.

As our community has grown, we have also begun to face bigger city challenges such as an increase in gang activity and gang related crime. Fortunately, our community was able to respond quickly to stem that tide. The partnerships that have been developed through the School District, the City, members of the St. Vrain Valley Gang Task Force, and the Longmont Community Justice Partnership have provided unparalleled resources to protect and strengthen our kids.

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Planning and collaboration have been a part of this community from its establishment. The Longmont Area Comprehensive Plan and various iterations of master plans have successfully guided various infrastructure improvements throughout recent years. Two versions of the Envision 2020 Community Strategic Plan were completed in the 1990’s. All of these efforts have served the community well. Notable testaments to their success include 1500 acres of parks and open space and the St. Vrain Greenway trail system. Also, in recent years, our community successfully funded a new recreation center and museum, a senior center expansion, a new water treatment plant, a wastewater treatment plant expansion and a major new boulevard. Another success of long-term planning was our community’s ability to respond to the worst drought in its history without significant impacts. Longmont is also starting to see job growth again. The number of jobs and those who are seeking them is starting to equalize once more.

Recognizing the accelerating pace of change, rapid globalization and dramatic increases in regional competition, representatives from businesses, neighborhoods, and non-profits came together in 2005 to develop a strategic plan aimed at ensuring a freestanding, sustainable Longmont after build-out. Our residents developed strategies to enable Longmont to continue to improve the quality of life as growth revenues decline. How will the community continue to improve education? How will we engage a more diverse community and make our diversity an asset? How can we encourage redevelopment? Our past growth was guided by careful planning and cooperation. Our future after build-out is being managed with the same care.

1 (B). Community Celebration: Why should your community be selected as an All-America City? Describe what makes your community a great place to live, work, and play. (300 word maximum)

Longmont enjoys the highest ratio of people living and working in the same city in Colorado. The diversity of housing available and housing programs allows many people to call Longmont home. However, it is the quality of life in the community that makes people want to live here.

Longmont has a wonderful feeling of community and has been described as a “Giant Front Porch,” a warm, inviting place to come together; to dream; and to plan our future. Residents have many opportunities to gather at events held by various organizations. Some of these include: ArtWalk, Taste of Longmont, Cinco de Mayo, Rhythm on the River, Festival on Main, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Pie Days, El Dia de Los Muertos Celebration, Veteran’s Day Parade, Hometown Holiday Parade and the nostalgic Pet and Doll Parade which will celebrate its 76th year in 2006.

The neighborhoods that residents call home also contribute to that feeling of community. There are many neighborhood groups, allowing residents to get together socially and to address problems. The City supports neighborhoods and the Neighborhood Group Leaders Association by helping with block parties and providing grants for neighborhood improvements. The City Council sets aside $50,000 annually for the projects initiated by the neighborhoods.

The City of Longmont’s Quality of Life Benchmarks ensure that the community will stay a great place to live, work and play. Almost every City department has benchmarks that anticipate the impacts of growth and development on the existing quality of life. When impacts are significant mitigation is required on new development or new development is denied. The benchmarks monitor fire/EMS response time, traffic congestion, clean water/air, open space, affordable housing, parks and recreation, noise, sewer/water infrastructure, school capacity, traffic enforcement, sense of safety/disorder, agriculture preservation and rate of growth.

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1 (C). Community Challenges: Based upon your community’s current status, describe your community’s two most pressing challenges.

Challenge #1: (200 words maximum)

The number of homeless in Longmont is increasing at an alarming rate since 2000 (when Longmont first conducted its own homeless count) from 206 persons to 691 in 2005 – a 235% increase. Our homeless are young (average age is 25.9 yrs) and half are homeless for the first time. Longmont’s homeless are less educated and over half of the current homeless are children.

Trends include:

• The total number of homeless has increased each year since 2000.

• The length of time persons are homeless is increasing. The percent of people homeless less than 30 days has decreased slightly since 2000 while the percent that are homeless for more than a month has increased from 81% to 85%.

• The number of times (incidents) that persons are homeless is also increasing. In 2000, 67% were homeless for the first time; in 2005 only 50% were homeless for the first time. For individuals homeless more than once, the percent increased from 33% in 2000 to 49% in 2005.

This community has the resources and will to eliminate the dismal symbol of social inequity that is homelessness.

 

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Challenge #2: (200 words maximum)

We are tackling the challenge of fully integrating all residents into a more ethnically diverse community. In the 1990 Census, 11.1% of our population was Hispanic. In 2000, that number grew to 19.1% and is projected to grow an additional 5% by 2009 (BBC Research). Approximately 40% are first generation, monolingual Spanish speakers. Meeting the needs of a more diverse population is of great concern to our community. Critical questions must be addressed such as: How will our education system serve a more diverse population? How will diversity affect the economy and housing demands? How can we engage a diverse population and make diversity a community asset?

In recent years, the city, county, schools, non-profits and local police agencies heard the frustrations of the Latino community and resolved to improve services and expand opportunities for all residents. In 2001, the Latino Task Force of Boulder County commissioned a survey that identified critical needs and concerns of the Latino Community, such as housing, drop-out rates, and language barriers. This community is committed to eliminating the barriers that all minority populations face and modifying our systems and structures to actively include their voices in policy/decision making processes.

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Part III- Community-Driven Projects