Golden History: From Shabby to Chic and Beyond

Golden before revitalization

In the 1980s, Golden was in sad shape. Half of the stores in the historic downtown were vacant and the City had deferred maintenance work on our streets and other infrastructure items due to low revenues. Determined to revive the city, residents voted to establish an urban renewal authority to revitalize downtown and approved a 1% sales tax to be used for capital investment (such as street and water plant improvements).

Since that era, and because of those decisions, Golden has been revitalized with a vengeance. We now have wonderful streets, award-winning parks, a golf course, a water park, a kayak park, several new bridges (both vehicular and pedestrian), a community center, sidewalks along Clear Creek where there used to be mud social trails. Downtown, instead of being deserted, is swarming with people.

Golden is cute as a button. Everyone wants to live here. Everyone wants to visit here. Our sales tax revenue is beyond enviable.

We’ve said we want a community that is walkable and bikeable, so we’ve built miles of trails.

We’ve said we value being active and healthy, so we’ve built parks, a community center, a golf course, a water park, a whitewater park, and a skateboard park.

We’ve said we want a vibrant downtown, so we’ve spent millions to make it pretty, and to attract tourists.

We’ve said we value the arts, so we formed a Public Arts Commission and they are commissioning original artwork to place around the city.

Are we done? We have a Vision Plan, neighborhood plans, a parks master plan, and a Clear Creek master plan, all filled with lists of more things we can do to enhance Golden.

Whenever we have a community input session, we all chime in to say what else we want. More trails! More parks! A fine arts center! Better sidewalks! A bigger water park! A new city hall! More open space! Affordable housing! Light rail into downtown! When we express those longings, we’re not looking at price tags. We’re not evaluating cost versus how badly we want all those things.

City Council is reviewing that backlog of wishes and looking for ways to fund them. Should we increase our sales tax? Add a lodging tax?

Or is Golden nice enough as it is? Do we need still more amenities? Our 1% sales tax will continue to keep our infrastructure in great shape. Is the rest just gilding the lily?

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