Guest column: Littleton provides a vibrant model

By John Brackney

Posted

For my entire life, I have called the Greater Littleton Community home. Before the strip malls and the incorporation of other parts of Arapahoe County, before even the idea of Highlands Ranch, thousands of us were going to church, shopping and living in Littleton. Some of my fondest memories include fishing with my father at Sterne and Ketring Parks, walking in the homecoming parade, and graduating from Littleton High School where my daughters now attend school.

When first elected as an Arapahoe County commissioner, I drove by the original, historic county courthouse (where I received a curfew ticket as a teenager) on my way to be sworn in at the County Administration Building in Littleton, the county seat. I learned that the county owned the then-vacant building, so I asked about the history of the building and took a tour. It quickly became apparent that one of the most important things the county could do was to save that building. We had to restore part of our past in order to build a stronger future. The City of Littleton now has a beautifully restored courthouse thanks to our efforts.

I've now been directly and professionally involved for over 16 years in the economic health of our county seat, the City of Littleton. I love its people, history and tradition, and I have become heavily involved in areas where citizens and government need to work together to ensure the city's continued success, including the city's changing demographics, its cultural norms, the strength of its commercial base, its transportation routes, and its neighborhoods. The city's future is brighter today than I have ever seen it. Littleton has the potential to achieve an elegant balance between respect for its culture and tradition as a historic city (not just a suburb of Denver) and the critical role Littleton plays in one of the nation's premier metropolitan areas, Denver.

A spotlight is now focused on Colorado, particularly South Metro Denver. We've become the top destination in the country for young professionals to live and work, with major companies expanding and moving here. Littleton is responding accordingly with a variety of new residential and commercial growth.

The Littleton City Council made a wise decision by hiring Michael Penny as city manager. Michael is an energetic, competent and hard-working professional. He and his staff have embarked on a series of long-range planning, communication and economic-development initiatives to improve the quality of life for our city's residents, and we are beginning to see the fruits of their vision and labor. The economy over the last four years has proven difficult for many in our community, both in business and in our neighborhoods, but we now have the potential to grow responsibly and significantly.

For example, as part of the city's economic planning efforts, Littleton recently approved an economic development incentive for Breckenridge Brewery. The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce is taking this a step further and working with the county to evaluate the possibility of waiving the county's portion of the oppressive business personal property tax that they have jurisdiction over.

As we unite to build a better future, we must be aware of the possibilities before us while recognizing the incredible wealth of knowledge provided by our citizens, elected officials and dedicated staff. We must work together to continue creating jobs, growing the economy, and ensuring that Littleton remains the great place we all love with world-class education through the Littleton Public Schools, world-class parks through the South Suburban Park and Recreation District, strong businesses, and vibrant, safe communities.

John Brackney is the president and CEO of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.