Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon stressed innovation and performance last week in her annual State of Our City address. Photo by Peter Jones
BY PETER JONES
Don’t ever say Centennial is afraid to unbutton its collar.
It was less than 10 minutes into Mayor Cathy Noon’s State of Our City address last week that a flash mob gave civic stasis a run for its money.
“Our theme this year is great performances and I think you will find we were pretty committed and found time to lighten up,” Noon said before a half dozen dancers burst into the sounds of Imagine Dragon’s “On Top of the World.”
The group’s cue had been a quote from “innovation” specialist Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: “Over-seriousness is a warning sign for mediocrity and bureaucratic thinking. People who are seriously committed to mastery and high performance are secure enough to lighten up.”
“I think Centennial certainly feels we are on top of the world,” Noon said as the Boulder Flash Mob yielded the floor back to the mayor.
Performance, in every sense, and its accompanying innovation were recurring themes as the mayor gave Centennial’s 11th annual State of Our City address April 16 at Embassy Suites Hotel Denver Tech Center.
Noon’s yearly summary went from the most literal of performances in Centennial Center Park to Centennial being the smallest of 12 cities – along with Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles and Jerusalem – to be awarded an “innovation” grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Along the way, Centennial figured on USA Today’s list of the 50 best places to live while Center Park made 5280’s Top of the Town. Governing magazine called Centennial the most Internet-connected larger city.
“If you ask me, these are some pretty great performances in our city,” the mayor said, before showing a video of Centennial’s other meritorious highlights.
But it was not just concerts and accolades from the publishing industry that have increasingly put the 14-year-old city on the proverbial map.
“Our local economy is also performing well,” Noon said, noting Centennial’s quick home sales and record-high building permits. “… The city remains debt free, continues to see an increase in sales-tax revenues, maintains a high credit and prides itself on doing economic development differently.”
A flash-mob dancer entertains a surprised audience at Centennial’s April 16 State of Our City address. “[Centennial] found time to lighten up,” Mayor Cathy Noon said. Photo by Peter Jones
Noon also heralded the arrivals of Arrow Electronics and the impending Jones District, which has been touted as Centennial’s first transit-oriented development. She said recent annexations have brought more than 850,000 square feet of commercial office space into the city.
Also in 2014, Centennial began implementing the final phase of its new Land Development Code in an effort to protect the character of residential neighborhoods while providing a streamlined development process.
“We want to make it easier for residential and commercial property owners to improve their properties without expensive and time-consuming red tape,” the mayor said.
The streets that connect residents to the businesses were also a priority in 2014 with the purchase of five new snowplows and a touted Arctic Shark ice-crushing attachment.
The design and right-of-way acquisition for the road‐widening project on Arapahoe Road from Waco Street to Himalaya Way is nearly complete with construction slated to start soon, Noon said. The redesign on the intersection of Arapahoe and I-25 is slated for completion by the end of 2017.
As for the fiber-optic cables underneath many of the city’s roads, Noon said Centennial has hired a consultant to help explore the opportunities to make better use of what has been approved by public vote for leasing to private industry.
“We are working with the participating cities to share ideas and lessons learned when it comes to leveraging our existing fiber infrastructure to attract new businesses and create jobs,” the mayor said. “Combining this groundwork with our innovation emphasis makes for exciting possibilities in 2015.”
In looking forward, Noon said Centennial is ready for new challenges.
“While 2014 was undoubtedly a year of great performances, 2015 is all about thinking outside of the box, being innovative, doing things differently and better,” she said.
The State of Our City is each year presented by Rotary Club of Centennial.
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