Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

Planning survey available online for Niwot residents


April 21, 2017

Photo by Julie Ankenbrandt The sign on Diagonal Highway is one of many projects that are funded with LID monies. This project was completed several years ago and reflects what the LID does for the community.

*Editor's note: The survey is already live and running at http://www.niwot.com/survey. Residents do not have to wait for the reminder card that will be sent next month. The planning survey is to get feedback from the public on ways to spend LID funds allocated to Niwot. We apologize for the confusion.

Everyone living in Niwot will soon be receiving a survey card in the mail regarding downtown planning.

Julie Ankenbrandt, Niwot economic development director and marketing director for the Niwot Business Association, said that the goal is to formulate a long-term plan.

“What we’re trying to do is create a future for the vision of Niwot,” Ankenbrandt said. “It’s tempting to take things as they come and roll with it. But strategic planning plays an important role in the future of a community, and that’s what we’re trying to do in a proactive way.”

The cards can either be returned in the mail or the survey can be taken online at http://www.niwot.com/survey.

The Niwot Local Improvement District (LID) collects a one percent sales tax to be sent back to the community through the county. What would be the best way to use those funds is what Ankenbrandt and everyone involved are trying to find out.

“It’s a forward-thinking type of project,” Ankenbrandt said. “What we’re really focused on is big infrastructure projects and improvements.

“We want to make sure we use those funds on things that are most important and make the most difference in creating the best version of our future.”

Ankenbrandt wants residents to remember that nothing is set in stone, they simply want to gather ideas from the community and gauge what people would like to see most.

“It really could be anything,” Ankenbrandt said. “It could be a gateway into town welcoming visitors, it could be lighting or benches, a dog park or a new community — maybe people would like an art center. Those types of things, it depends on what people want, that’s why we’re doing the survey.”

With the success of the Niwot Children’s Park, the hope is that the community will come together to improve the town and use the LID funds in the best way possible.

The planning group consists of anywhere from 20 to 30 people (depending on who can make the meeting).

“The goal is to engage the community and make it a community project,” Ankenbrandt said. “That’s why we’re launching the survey. We want everyone to participate and give ideas.

“Hopefully by hearing from everyone we’ll end up with something we all feel good about.”

After results come in, they will take the information and come back to the community with the collective vision.

“We’re not sure what the next steps will look like after we hear from everyone,” Ankenbrandt said. “We’ll put together all of the responses and come back to people with a plan. The goal is to be strategic in spending the LID funds.

“It’s easy to spend those funds on small projects along the way, but if we create a long-term vision we have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the future in a way that people will love. It’s not about businesses, it’s about creating a better experience of the town, it just happens to be focused on the business district.”

The LID funds have a requirement that they have to be spent on business, and infrastructure improvements help businesses.

Of all of the options on how to use the funds, Ankenbrandt said that making a visit or attracting new people to town is the focus.

“Ten years from now, what do we want the experience of Niwot to be?” Ankenbrandt said. “What do we want it to feel like and look like? Are there services that we can offer to make it a better place for people to live, work and play?

“We want to maintain and improve the vibrancy that Niwot has right now. There’s always the question of how to make it better. It’s great right now, we love it right now and we want to hear those things too. But how can we make the experience even better? That’s really the crux of it.”

Despite the rising cost of housing in Boulder County, the neighborhoods and schools still people in.

“Obviously people want good jobs and good housing,” Ankenbrandt said. “Underneath all of that, they want to be connected to some kind of community. Whether you’re connected at work or at church or school, it’s really important for people to feel in some way. I think we’ll always be able to offer that in Niwot.”

As the city of Boulder continues to reach north and Longmont is developing to the south, the idea of a rural setting is not overlooked in this survey.

“We see ourselves as kind of the last vestige of small town Colorado in this area,” Ankenbrandt said. “So we’re out to protect that. We don’t have any intent of letting that change, because it is of value. Going forward, that doesn’t keep you from wanting to make living here better.”

The area Ankenbrandt refers to includes both Second Avenue and all of Cottonwood Square.

Keeping the familiar parts of downtown are important, she said, and she wants people to know that there is not a plan to drastically change the area.

“We want to provide a unique experience here, and I think we’re doing that,” Ankenbrandt said. “We want to preserve what people love about Niwot now — we appreciate what we have — but that doesn’t mean we can’t be proactive about the future.”

Residents who return the survey can also include their email address to receive updates on any meetings where the use of LID funds are discussed.


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