Spread the Love#
Send a note to someone who makes Fort Collins better. Pick up a pre-stamped "Thank You" postcard at City facilities across town to send a quick message of gratitude and appreciation to anyone you believe is making a difference in the community - it could be a business, teacher, non-profit, neighbor, colleague ... anyone!
And for a little inspiration, check out the City's postcard to you.
2021 Report to the Community#
Through the past year, Fort Collins has continued to navigate the disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, pursue recovery efforts across the community, and look ahead to who we want to be in our next phase … all while continuing to deliver high quality municipal services 24/7/365. Below are a few highlights from 2021.
American Rescue Plan Act#
The federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) established $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding, of which $28.1M has been allocated to the City of Fort Collins. In May, City Council appropriated $4.2M for short-term response efforts, and another $3.6M was allocated in the 2022 City budget. The remaining ARPA funds are expected to be allocated in the 2023-2024 budget cycle, after the Recovery Plan adoption in early 2022. Short-term ARPA-funded projects in 2021 included:
- Eviction legal fund
- Direct assistance for Utilities customers
- 24/7 shelter at Fort Collins Rescue Mission
- For Fort Collins business and economic recovery campaign & website
- Recovery communications
Housing Strategic Plan#
The 2021 Housing Strategic Plan sets out an ambitious vision that everyone in Fort Collins has healthy, stable housing they can afford. The seven greatest challenges to this vision have been identified, and 26 strategies have been prioritized as first steps to address each of these challenges.
Recreation Childcare Programming#
Youth programs enrolled more than 900 community children in more than 3,000 programs and activities throughout the summer. Scholarship funding provided 2,055 enrollments in childcare and child development programs, including $5,000 in scholarships from the Child Care Relief Grant, allowing nearly 100 children to participate in accessible, no-cost summer camp programs.
In partnership with local organizations, such as Salud Health Clinics, Recreation hosted several COVID-19 vaccine clinics at facilities throughout the year. Through these clinics, more than 8,000 vaccines were distributed to community members, many of whom were from low-income or underserved populations.
East Mulberry Plan#
In late 2018, Fort Collins closed the East Mulberry enclave allowing the City to possibly annex the area into City limits. City Council will ultimately decide whether to annex any, part, or all of the area, and when. City staff have been working closely with area residents and businesses to update the 2002 East Mulberry Corridor Plan to better understand the unique strengths and opportunities within the area and determine how much a potential annexation would cost the City, as City services would be provided to residents and businesses within City limits. City Council will review the updated plan and corresponding feedback in early 2022 and consider potential annexation.
- The Gardens on Spring Creek hosted its first full-capacity concert welcoming 1,500 patrons to performances by Herbie Hancock and the Fort Collins Symphony. The Garden of Lights also welcomed more than 30,000 visitors– double the attendance of past years!
- The Lincoln Center continues to recover from a season of pandemic-induced closures, hosting more than 300 events in 2021, pivoting to offer new services like live streaming, and securing nearly $2 million in assistance from state and federal grants.
- More than 92,000 rounds of golf were played across the City’s three courses – a 24% increase from 2019.
- Recreation also continued to see improvements in participation and revenues in 2021, despite ongoing COVID-19 impacts. Recreation ended the year with revenues exceeding expenses across the department, and having served more than 750,000 participants with programming and enriching activities at 10 facilities.
- In 2021 Art in Public Places coordinated 43 new murals, 13 pedestrian pavers and 4 new sculptures across Fort Collins.
- In October, “The Hand that Feeds” sculpture was unveiled at Sugar Beet Park. The sculpture and plaza were made possible by private donations and honor the heritage of Hispanic and Mexican sugar beet workers, recognizing their lasting impact in the community.
- FC Moves led the installation of three asphalt art projects, adding murals to neighborhood streets that are each uniquely designed to reflect the communities where they are located.
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Reopens#
After 80% of the site was burned in 2020’s Cameron Peak Fire, the popular Bobcat Ridge Natural Area reopened in September, thanks to community support and the Pulliam Charitable Trust. Restoration work included removing burned trees adjacent to trails, reconstructing bridges and boardwalks, reconstructing Valley Loop trails that were washed out by several flash floods, and more. Several visitor amenities were improved, and ecological restoration of 200 acres occurred including restoring native grassland, removing invasive plants, and reseeding with native species to improve habitat for native wildlife and pollinators.
Twin Silo Park Harvest#
Twin Silo's 2021 garden harvest produced a 103-pound donation to the Larimer County Food Bank and more than 70 pounds of hops for Odell Brewing Company. The harvest included 14 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers grown on nearly 100 towers and a half-acre orchard.
City Park Restrooms#
A new four-season restroom facility was built in City Park, replacing an outdated structure that was no longer functional. The new facility features include upgraded amenities, ADA-compliant restroom access, a wraparound porch with trellis, and an Art in Public Places sculpture that mimics snowberry shrubs and flowers. The project also includes improvements to the adjacent accessible on-street parking and attached sidewalk.
Keep NoCo Open#
The regional website NoCoRecovers.com was created to provide a single source of up-to-date information on potential funding resources available to support the business community of Northern Colorado. The site served as a hub for other tools including the Keep NoCo Open educational campaign, ongoing COVID-19 impact surveys, public health summaries, and recovery indicators and metrics. Keep NoCo Open encouraged businesses and community members to take action and follow safety guidelines to keep the community open for business.
Fort Collins Connexion continued building out across Fort Collins and signing up new residential and business customers, securing a 31% take rate as of December 2021. Construction is scheduled for completion in late 2022. In addition, Connexion welcomed a new executive director, and in November launched a new website and a new billing platform with enhanced features to help customers pay their bills and manage their accounts.
Upgrades at Oak Street Plaza were completed in June, including repairs and replacement of the fountain and improvements to the pedestrian area. Additional plaza improvements are expected to be completed in the spring. In addition, the first phase of the Linden Street Renovation Project is complete, with the next phase scheduled to begin in 2022. This project will include infrastructure repairs and upgrades, and will transform Linden into a pedestrian-friendly "convertible street" during special events.
Outdoor Dining Expansion#
The City of Fort Collins created a temporary program with a streamlined permitting process to continue and expand options for restaurants, retail, and bars to operate in outdoor patio settings adjacent to their businesses, including parking lots, sidewalks and street parking spaces. More than 45 new outdoor permits were approved through the program.
A voluntary, Water Shortage Watch for Fort Collins Utilities customers was enacted in 2021 due to the potential for post-wildfire water quality impacts in the Poudre River Watershed. The community’s voluntary response helped avoid a water shortage and restrictions, despite 49 days of relying solely on Horsetooth Reservoir for water.
Watershed recovery efforts included aerial mulch applied by helicopter to 5,050 acres to stabilize the hillslopes and slow erosion that threatens downstream water supply infrastructure, private residences and water quality. Eight additional stream and hillslope mitigation projects on private lands were completed to stabilize stream channels, reduce erosion, and protect roads. Additional recovery projects are planned for 2022.
In 2021, Fort Collins Utilities electricity from non-carbon resources exceeded 50% for the first time. This marks a milestone as the City and Platte River Power Authority aspire to reach 100% non-carbon generation by 2030. The recent addition of the Roundhouse Wind Energy Project and approximately 470 new community solar arrays helped push the community above this milestone. Fort Collins now has approximately 2,573 operational solar arrays, totaling almost 23 MW.
Safe Water Action Program#
The Safe Water Action Program (SWAP) is a proactive, ongoing effort to investigate and, if needed, replace aging galvanized steel water service lines and lead goosenecks. Galvanized water service lines are steel pipes coated with zinc to prevent rust or corrosion. They are considered an acceptable plumbing product by current codes; however, the material becomes brittle over time and are a frequent source of leaks. In addition, Utilities’ long-standing policy is to immediately remove lead goosenecks upon discovery, with more than 600 removed to date. Through SWAP, crews will accelerate the identification and replacement of any remaining galvanized service lines or lead goosenecks, improving water quality and reliability for customers.
Our Climate Future#
Our Climate Future was adopted in March and is the City’s update to three community environmental plans: Fort Collins’ Energy Policy, the Road to Zero Waste Plan, and the Climate Action Plan. The plan centers on co-creating equitable solutions with the community, leveraging collective action to respond to community priorities and achieving the goals set forth in the three plans. The most recent data shows community greenhouse gas emissions are 24% below the 2005 baseline level.
Plastic Bag Ordinance#
A plastic bag ordinance was passed by City Council in February and affirmed by voters in April. It will go into effect May 1, 2022, banning plastic bags and placing a 12-cent fee on paper bags at large grocers. Participants in income-qualified programs, such as WIC or SNAP, will be exempt from the fee with a current benefit card or program ID.
Mental Health Response Team#
The Mental Health Response Team expanded in 2021 to two teams (officer + clinician) to provide daytime coverage seven days a week. Through a partnership with UCHealth, the Response Team helps to provide the right care at the right time and place for people in crisis, helping them access appropriate community services and increasing safety for community members and officers alike. In addition, all FCPS officers receive training related to mental health, and more than one-third have earned Crisis Intervention Teams certification.
After eight years of planning and collaboration, the Northern Colorado Law Enforcement Training Center opened as a world-class resource for Fort Collins Police Services, Loveland Police Department, and regional law enforcement agencies to continuously advance their skills. The NCLETC includes:
- A 1.4-mile driving track and 5-acre skills pad for opportunities to safely train a variety of vehicle maneuvers, high-speed scenarios, and seamless connectivity to the indoor training area for combination scenario practice
- A 50-yard tactical range that allows for flexible scenario setups, the integration of different vehicles and structures, and various lighting environments
- Classroom and conference space equipped with audio, video, and wireless connectivity resources.
In October, ten cadets comprised the inaugural graduation from the new Fort Collins Police Academy. This graduation marked the end of a 21-week training program during which cadets learned, integrated, and successfully demonstrated the skills, mindset, and values required of police officers in Fort Collins. The in-house academy allows Fort Collins Police Services to train officers to local standards from day one. All cadets are now certified under Colorado P.O.S.T., or Peace Officer Standards of Training, as required by state law. These officers must also successfully complete a rigorous field training program before being assigned to patrol duties on their own.
Spring Snowstorm Response#
In March, Fort Collins received more than 23 inches of heavy, wet snow. City and contract crews worked around the clock for several days plowing 10,100 miles of roadway – including all residential streets – as well as sidewalks, bike lanes and City parking lots. The storm also caused severe tree damage across the community. A collaborative clean-up response included pruning 3,100 trees, removing 300 trees, and diverting more than 35,000 cubic yards of branches and logs from the landfill through the curbside branch pickup and community-wide limb drop-off sites.
Vine & Lemay Bridge#
The new Lemay Avenue Bridge over the BNSF Railroad and Vine Drive opened to traffic on Dec. 11 - three weeks ahead of target – marking a major milestone in the years-long effort to improve traffic congestion and safety in the area. Final work and landscaping will be completed in the spring.
New Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure#
FC Moves, Engineering, and Streets installed new bicycle infrastructure across the city, including bike/ped traffic signals at Magnolia and Shields, Drake and Hampshire, and Columbia and Lemay; and new bike lanes on Laporte from Howes to Downtown. These projects continue to improve Fort Collins' Low-Street Bike Network and help further establish on-street bike routes.
2021 saw several changes among City leadership, beginning with the April municipal election, which resulted in a new mayor and three new Councilmembers. In August, the City said farewell to its longtime city manager and began a national recruitment effort to select his replacement. Other key leadership hires in 2021 included the interim city manager, deputy city manager, assistant city manager, city clerk, chief financial officer, Connexion executive director, Community Services director, and several department directors. In 2022, the City is expected to hire both a new city manager and a new Utilities executive director.
Equity & Inclusion Officer#
In August, the City welcomed its first Equity & Inclusion Officer to lead the City's DEI efforts. The position is housed in the City Manager’s Office and will help incorporate an equity lens in City services and operations, and foster partnerships and relationship-building across the community.
Former Hughes Stadium Property#
Voters approved a citizen-initiated ballot measure directing the City to rezone and purchase the former Hughes Stadium property. City Council rezoned the property to Public Open Lands in May and in August they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Colorado State University (CSU) outlining a potential path for the property acquisition. In November 2021, the City and CSU announced they would move forward to finalize agreements for the City’s purchase of the property, likely to be completed in the first half of 2022. A robust public engagement process is expected throughout 2022 to determine the final land use as outlined in the approved ballot measure.
Municipal Equality Index#
The Human Rights Campaign increased the City’s Municipal Equality Index rating to a perfect 100 score, recognizing its continued work toward a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ+ employees and community members. Among the changes that lead to this year's increase: the adoption of transgender-inclusive healthcare for City employees and providing City services to LGBTQ+ youth and the transgender community. Fort Collins was also highlighted as one of five "Success Stories" in the HRC's Municipal Equality Index Annual Report.
Best Places to Work#
Providing high-quality community services requires exceptional talent across the organization. The City of Fort Collins was one of six recipients of the 2021 Best Places to Work in Local Government by ELGL. The City was recognized for offering meaningful, competitive benefits and an overall culture of wellbeing and recent investments to keep employees healthy and deepen resilience.