LETTER: Aurora needs a plan for smart growth, and I can deliver it

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EDITOR: It isn’t news to anyone reading this – Aurora is getting big. With nearly 400,000 people and a sprawling road network, we suffer big city problems.

We all see the traffic congestion but the deterioration of our streets is more subtle.  For too long the funding available to care for our streets hasn’t matched the damage inflicted by our weather and heavy usage. Data compiled by the Public Works Department indicates we’ve fallen $20 million behind what’s needed to maintain our roads and that shortfall will grow at an accelerating rate. We cannot let our streets crumble.

The City depends largely on sales tax collections to fund street maintenance and other services. That means the health of our streets depends directly on our retail and restaurant trade. But even in this healthy economy, the City of Aurora can’t keep up. Why?

One factor: Consumers today are less interested in things, opting instead for experiences. This is seen in rising attendance at concerts and other performing arts. But with virtually no venues, we all generally leave Aurora for our fix of live music or other performing arts.  Further, folks rarely visit Aurora for dinner and a live show.

For those staying at the Gaylord, it’s a 20-minute Uber ride to the new Mission Ballroom in Denver. For residents in south Aurora, the drive to Greenwood Village, Parker and Lone Tree is even shorter.  Morrison, Broomfield and Arvada also enjoy a slice of our business.

Aurora is home to 8% of the people living on the Front Range yet has no major venues. This creates an imbalance in event-related trade with our neighbors. But with the region’s population growing, Aurora has the opportunity to seize a share of the expanding market and correct this imbalance.  Further, with several sites adjacent to major transportation arterials, the prospects for drawing people here for events are tremendous.

Aurora’s opportunity goes beyond the economic realm. There are numerous community-building benefits to be gained that would advance our quality of life.  Holding high school graduations closer to home is one.  Providing spaces for our own artists to perform and create is another.  With robust public input, a venue can also help revitalize a neighborhood.

Quality of Life is more than just a slogan in my campaign for Aurora City Council At-Large. If elected, I’ll work tirelessly to develop and execute a focused strategic plan to bring venues and the related benefits to Aurora. All community and business stakeholders will be at the table and we will be fiscally-responsible each step of the way.

I would be honored to have you join me.

Curtis Gardner Candidate for Aurora City Council, At-Large —via [email protected]