Deliberative Forum Information
View the Deliberative Forum Report (PDF file)
View the Report Appendices (PDF file)
This past summer, over 175 community members participated in two forums to deliberate about four possible future directions for action and suggested which ones the City Council might pursue to ensure that Longmont remains a sustainable, distinct community for decades to come.
Those four potential future directions were:
1. Enriching the Experience of Living in Longmont
2. Enhancing the Environment, Natural and Built
3. Prosperity through Innovation, Efficiency and Education
4. Extending the Principles of Cooperation and Share Responsibility throughout the Community.
Participants in the deliberative forums looked favorably on each of the four “Directions for the Future” that were presented to them for their consideration. In the end, however, most concluded that Direction 3 (“Expand Prosperity through Innovation, Efficiency, and Education”) must, to some substantial degree, be the city’s top priority. It is the direction without which it will prove difficult to accomplish any of the other goals the city might wish to pursue in its effort to sustain Longmont’s distinctive quality of life.
Participants also said:
• There should be a clear strategy for attaining both the level and the type of prosperity that serves the community’s desire to sustain its quality of life.
• Both new development and re-development should be consistent with the values and community visions held by Longmont residents.
• Downtown is the civic, cultural, and economic heart of the community.
• Longmont needs a balance between local small and large non-local businesses.
More forum participants expressed concern about education than about any other topic they discussed. The combination of an emphasis on economic prosperity and on the indispensable role education plays in achieving that goal made Direction 3 a powerful choice with near-universal appeal for forum participants. .
In the discussion of Direction 1 (”Enrich the Experience of Living in Longmont“), participants generally agreed that Longmont’s small-town feel ought to be retained as far as possible.
• Downtown should be more of a “destination” than it is today.
• It should feature mixed uses: residential, retail, entertainment, and civic.
• It must be economically viable.
• It should be a place all residents can identify with, feel a part of, and make use of. The city should ascertain what residents think downtown should be in order to serve as the focal point of the broader community.
• The city should do more to help and support businesses on Main Street.
Many participants expressed concerns that Longmont’s future could be built around an emphasis on the arts. They said it would be more effective for the city to work on improving business conditions so that the private sector might contribute more to support of the arts in Longmont.
Along with “revitalizing downtown,” “cultural diversity” resonated more strongly with participants than did “the arts.” It is important for residents of a community (especially in a community that is growing more ethnically diverse) to celebrate together. The city should play an important part, if only as a catalyst, in creating and sustaining regular city-wide celebrations that span and connect Longmont’s various communities.
A number of participants said there are not enough amenities and events for young people. Much more attention should be devoted to this need.
In the discussion of Direction 2 (“Enhance the Environment, Natural and Built”), participants made it clear that the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the natural environment is a key component of Longmont’s quality of life. The city’s trees, parks, mountain views, open space, trails, and the like constitute a major community asset.
• Not everyone agreed Longmont has a “traffic problem,” but most recognized that the community faces a challenge in preventing it from becoming a problem detrimental to Longmont’s environmental quality. Participants saw improved public transportation as a precautionary measure to hold at bay the congestion that is mounting in the north suburban area as a whole. As Longmont builds out and begins to “build in,” the city should be planned so that public transportation becomes more practical, more attractive, and more economical.
Some participants expressed a desire for Longmont’s “built environment”—its buildings, houses, streets, etc.—to be as appealing as the city’s natural environment. They argued that architectural “theming” would reinforce our sense of identity, of place, and of living in a "small-town."
But most participants shied away from undertaking a deliberate effort to improve the appearance of downtown. One of their chief reasons was that success might render Longmont even more attractive than it already is, thereby fueling growth and driving up rents and property values, forcing more residents to work and live elsewhere. In any event, it's highly unlikely that residents could agree on something as subjective as architectural taste. Some participants thought we should preserve Longmont’s spontaneous character, even if it’s a little rough and gritty in places.
A number of participants urged that Longmont move more quickly toward “built-green” construction requirements for both new construction and renovations. Others cautioned that a blanket built-green policy would narrow the range of housing options available to people and raise prices to the point where neither current residents nor newcomers could to afford to live in Longmont.
Although Direction 4 (“Extend ‘Community’ to Everyone and Everything”) in the end did not rank as highly in the estimation of forum participants as Directions 3 and 2, from the discussion that took place it is evident that the matters it raised were of serious concern. Many forum participants took the view that, even if one or more of the other directions could be realized, neglect of Direction 4 in time would render them rather hollow achievements—perhaps even unsustainable ones.
Some participants characterized “community” as the widespread ability and readiness to engage in cooperative action for the purpose of accomplishing things that benefit the community. They argued that government can’t build and sustain a community and its quality of life—it needs the active involvement of the community.
Longmont needs processes for discussion and decision-making that are widely regarded as fair, accessible, and responsive by all members of the community Probably no other idea resonated so much with so many participants in their discussion of Direction 4 than the need for individuals and groups to take responsibility for finding solutions or answers to the matters that concern them. Resonating, however, doesn’t entail agreement. For some participants, taking responsibility seemed to mean something like acknowledging an obligation to work with others, to “do one’s share,” or “contribute what one can.” Other participants appeared to believe that taking responsibility means self-reliance, not making claims on others, not asking for assistance from those who believe that they are not accountable for conditions or circumstances not of their making.
Achieving broader participation by residents and sustaining their engagement over time present a formidable challenge, however. Most people get involved in community matters only when they are directly affected, or believe they will be. In their discussion of Direction 4, participants identified four important components of “community” in Longmont:
• It’s important to cultivate a civic norm of volunteerism.
• We must strengthen and connect neighborhoods, because they are the “links” in the “chain” that is the community. Strengthening them both internally and externally would do much to maintain Longmont’s small-town feel and at the same time enhance its ability to act as a community.
• We must build partnerships. The city should make it a priority to stimulate the formation of partnerships throughout Longmont.
• The city must exercise leadership. It is the city’s responsibility to initiate efforts to meet community challenges.
Throughout the month of October, City Council will be determining which directions to pursue and creating specific policies in support of these directions. To view the entire Deliberative Forum results and provide input on the preliminary policies, please visit the City’s website at www.ci.longmont.co.us and click on the Focus on Longmont icon. For more information about the Focus on Longmont strategic plan, contact Karen Roney at 303.651.8633, Dale Rademacher at 303.651.8355 or Carmen Ramirez at 303.651.8445.
View the Deliberative Forum Report (PDF file)
View the Report Appendices (PDF file)