Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon highlighted many of the city’s forward-thinking accomplishments in her final State of Our City address last week at Embassy Suites.
BY PETER JONES
Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon’s final State of Our City address was both a nostalgic farewell from a longtime public servant and a spirited look forward at a city that has finally come of age.
“For me, a Centennial journey is coming to an end,” the term-limited Noon told a room of city residents and regional public officials at Embassy Suites in Centennial on April 13.
Noon, only the second mayor in Centennial’s 16-year history, became slightly emotional as she briefly acknowledged her waning months as the city’s top elected leader. By the time she steps down next January, Noon will have been mayor for nearly half of Centennial’s history.
“I am proud to have been part of this amazing journey and even prouder that we are creating a new roadmap for future generations to enjoy living, working and playing here,” she said.
The outgoing mayor relied on that new proverbial GPS for much of her 40-minute cruise through Centennial’s self-driven accomplishments of the past year—from an internationally recognized partnership with Lyft to a fiber-optic master plan that prompted Governing magazine to dub Centennial “America’s most internet-connected city.”
“Centennial continues to live up to its founding principles of being efficient and innovative,” Noon said during her update on the city’s high-tech performance.
Among the latest innovations has been the $1.25 million first phase of Centennial’s Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan, an important citywide adjunct to the long-awaited reconfiguration of I-25’s interchange at Arapahoe Road.
“We will install travel-time monitors, improve traffic-signal detection and connect all traffic signals to the upgraded master system—very exciting for travel in Centennial,” Noon said.
Founded defiantly in 2001 from a hodgepodge of unincorporated Arapahoe County, the newest city in the immediate metro area has long staked its identity in out-of-the-box thinking—from contracting for essential city services to forging solutions in technology platforms.
In 2014, Centennial was the smallest of 12 U.S. cities to receive a three-year $1.5 million “innovation” grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The resulting “i-team” would launch Go Centennial, a six-month partnership with Lyft that offered free rides to and from the Dry Creek light rail station. The millennial-skewing i-team worked in partnership with the Centennial Senior Commission to ensure user-friendliness across the generational board.
“This innovative, first-of-its-kind project served as a model for transit systems throughout the nation,” Noon said of Go Centennial. “We received worldwide media attention and continue to receive inquiries from cities across the U.S.”
Meanwhile, Centennial also earned recognition as Colorado’s second-healthiest housing market, its most “family-friendly” city, and the best city in the state for first-time homebuyers.
“I say, we’re on the right track,” Noon said.
Several hundred Centennial residents and regional public officials turned out for Mayor Cathy Noon’s State of Our City address at Embassy Suites.
According to the 60-ish mayor, the next step will be to ensure sufficient housing stock for Centennial’s growing senior population, which is predicted to be more than 17 percent higher than the national average within the next 13 years.
“It’s important for us to be planning now as 2030 will be here before we know it,” she said.
Other highlights for the year have included more annexations to the growing city, the introduction of several targeted master plans, and a compromise between the City Council and voters on an effort to limit certain business classifications along Arapahoe Road.
“In the end, a mutually accepted outcome was achieved while avoiding the cost of a special election,” Noon said.
The mayor’s impending departure comes as the city’s overall leadership remains uncertain. Two councilmembers are running for Noon’s seat this fall, while four other council seats are also up for election. The search for the next city manager is underway too.
For Noon’s part, she was clearly grateful for her own opportunities, after earlier stints in the incorporation movement and the drafting of the city charter.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as mayor of our community for eight years,” Noon said before receiving a standing ovation.
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