Mayor ready for challenges

Posted 10/1/08

During the next four years, Jim Gunning will have his work cut out for him. The second-ever mayor and his council are overseeing the start of several …

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Mayor ready for challenges


During the next four years, Jim Gunning will have his work cut out for him. The second-ever mayor and his council are overseeing the start of several long-term, development projects in the area.

The mayor, who has filled the spot for only five months met with the community Sept. 24 to introduce himself and gain feedback at a Meet the Mayor event hosted in partnership with the South Metro Chamber of Commerce.

For two hours Gunning and City Manager Jack Hidahl talked about the future plans for Lone Tree including the extension of FasTracks, Interstate 25 interchange and revitalizing the city’s entertainment district.

South Metro Chamber of Commerce also is working with Lone Tree on plans to highlight the area and its businesses to further economic development.

Citizens are overall pleased with the state of Lone Tree, according to the mayor, and no major concerns were voiced during the event.

The Voice recently sat down with Gunning to talk about the work and challenges ahead.

Voice: You’ve been mayor for five months. Tell us how it’s been going.

Gunning: Busy, but it’s been going really well. I wouldn’t have run for mayor if I didn’t want to do it. We’re keep very, very busy here at the city. I think the new council has been very aggressive at taking on a lot of issues.

Voice: You recently met with the community to chat about their concerns and answer questions. What did you hear from them?

Gunning: There weren’t any major concerns but people had questions about how the budget looks, and if we’re on track.

Voice: How is the budget shaping up?

Gunning: We’re on track to meet our budget from last year. We’re very conservative, and in our draft for the 2009 budget we planned for no growth in our existing revenue base, no growth in the mall revenues. But in a case like The Vistas, which is new, that will be added in. But there’s no growth from our existing sales tax revenue base.

Voice: Is the city planning for any developmental growth?

Gunning: We’ve been meeting with the chamber of commerce, which has an interest in business issues in Lone Tree. We’ve also been talking about economic development with the chamber. We did budget significantly more money this year for working on economic development and city staff is exploring some marketing options to highlight the advantages of being a small business in Lone Tree, and a resident.

Lone Tree should be known as a destination spot. It’s close to the light rail. We have good restaurants and a good entertainment district, and we want to highlight that to bring people here.

Voice: There’s a lot of talk surrounding the lack of funding for the FasTracks project. Lone Tree is the end point right now and slated for an extension. How does the current funding situation affect Lone Tree’s development?

Gunning: The current FasTracks issue is an issue for all of us in the area, but it affects our long-term development. Our interest is in the extension that will run from the current Lincoln station to the hospital and eventually into the RidgeGate development. Every metro community is trying to keep the project on schedule. It’s not expected to be built for a few years but we want to make sure it doesn’t get pushed back to 2034.

Voice:What are other long-term challenges you see for Lone Tree?

Gunning:The Lincoln Interchange. Lone Tree cannot build it on its own. It’s very expensive to build the modern infrastructure for the traffic we have there now. It’s becoming more of a challenge because federal and state funding isn’t there. They continue to withdraw their support.

We’re extremely far behind with infrastructure in Colorado, and we have no money to bring it up to speed.

Our community police department is also challenged with state funds. We now have to police the interstate and 470 because the state has withdrawn from that responsibility.


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