Saturday, July 11, 2015

Living the good life

If you’ve lived in Cheyenne any time at all, you’ll enjoy standing in the mayor’s office and remembering why you decided to live here as you look upon the photos of past office-holders. It is a decades-long gallery of visionary leaders. I’ve lived here since 1951 but my memories of mayors begin in 1962 with Bill Nation. Then there was Herb Kingham, George Cox, Floyd Holland, Jim Van Velzor, Don Erickson, Leo Pando, Jack Spiker, and now Rick Kaysen. Exceptional leaders.

Look on their faces and drive or walk around town and remember what made this community such a great place to live. Each of those people gave their time and considerable talents not just to the times they served but also to the future of this city. They didn’t just take care of the problems on “today’s” list but they thought about what Cheyenne could become in the future.

A few are gone and a few have left us. But each left Cheyenne better off than it was when they began their public service.

Of course, mayors don’t it alone. City council members, local and state community leaders joined these men. Together they combine to create one of the most livable communities in the country.

Cheyenne has been blessed with visionary leadership. We take for granted that Cheyenne has sufficient water to continue to support long-term economic development. Like the Stage II water development, which began half-a-century ago and assures our long-term water needs are met, or the greenway, which now spans 37 miles, the exceptional park and recreational infrastructure, and Depot Plaza, so much of what makes this city special began as a vision in the minds of thoughtful people who often weren’t around to see it come to fruition.

Consider the planning required to create a community safety structure of police, fire, and ambulance services making our community one of the safest. Exceptional baseball, softball, and soccer fields as well as the Ice and Events Center and Civic Center grew from the work of those who cared not only for their families but also for future generations.

Integral to Cheyenne is F.E. Warren AFB, the State Capitol Building and other amenities like the Museum and Archives, the Visitor’s center south of Cheyenne, and the attractive Game and Fish facility among many others.

Youth Alternatives’ innovative approach to juvenile justice has impacted thousands of families, saving countless young lives. The Boys and Girls Club is thriving and youngsters stand in line to experience the new aquatic center and the Paul Smith Children’s Village. Our library is nationally recognized, our school system among the best.

Festivals and community celebrations go beyond the iconic Cheyenne Frontier Days to include everything from the Brewers’ Festival to farmer’s markets and Super Day.

Cheyenne thoughtfully and compassionately created a social service safety net to include COMEA, Needs, St. Joseph’s food bank, Meals on Wheels, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, and Peak Wellness among dozens of other critical efforts of civic and faith organizations. The most impressive Animal Shelter on the Front Range serves our four-legged citizens.

We witness the innovative thinking of community leadership in ways ranging from the acquisition of the Belvoir Ranch to the purchase of Flo the goose-harassing Border collie, and the renovation of the Botanic Gardens. Especially visionary are the city’s plans for a “Universally Acceptable Playground” providing integrated accessibility for all children regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

One of the best examples of long-term thinking is the West Edge Project. Not only will the project mitigate flood threats, it will one day be a community showpiece. A creek will run through a park amidst a revived and beautiful part of Cheyenne providing an incentive for new economic growth.

The day will come when our grandchildren make their choices about where to work and raise families. Visionary, future-oriented projects like the West Edge and other work now occupying the thoughts of Cheyenne’s many innovative leaders will guarantee Cheyenne will continue to be an attractive alternative.

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