Officials working to keep Morrison’s charm

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By Deborah Swearingen

Drive into downtown Morrison, and the character of the town is undeniable. Eclectic local shops and eateries line Bear Creek Avenue, and the massive rock formations of nearby Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre peep through the tree line.

The charm of the town is not lost on its residents. But for many, the question remains: Is it possible to retain the character and preserve the history of Morrison while allowing for inevitable growth and change?

It’s been a topic of discussion in Morrison for years as the population of Colorado continues to soar, and last week, the Morrison Town Board and Planning Commission met to examine the board’s goals for the year. An effort to “Keep Morrison Morrison” tops the list.

“We’re not trying to turn it into an HOA,” board member Debora Jerome said. “What we’re trying to do is exactly what our goals say. It has a look. It has an attraction. It’s not Central City, but it was still a wild place. It was still a little western town.”

Topping the list of goals are:

• Wanting to disconnect from Red Rocks Centre, a planned commercial and residential development in the Rooney Valley. If approved by the Jeffco commissioners, the development would no longer be in Morrison’s town limits and would instead look to annex into Lakewood.

• Wanting to develop an overlay district to create rules and regulations for future businesses in downtown Morrison.

• Wanting economic development projects east of the hogback to expand the town’s tax base.

Jerome said the board is feeling the pressure, knowing that growth is rapid and developers may soon be knocking at its door.

Town board member Brewster Caesar agreed, saying Morrison’s location at the hogback puts the town in a unique position.

“We are a little mountain town, and we have the western expansion of Denver about to hit us in the face,” he said. “I think that’s why we have the (goal of) ‘Keep Morrison Morrison’ because we want to keep this a mountain town. We want to draw a line in the sand at the hogback and say, ‘OK, Denver stops there. The mountains start here.’”

Fewer than 500 people live in the town of Morrison, according to census data. Board and Planning Commission members hope to work together to do what they see as best for their neighbors and the town that they love.

Other goals for the upcoming years include:

• Investing in the town’s streetscape.

• Improving health and safety.

• Maintaining the historic character of downtown Morrison.

• Improving communication among staff, advisory boards and the public.

• Implementing long-range financial strategies.

In the end, the board has the final say on town matters, but all members agree that it is important to have varied perspectives on all issues.

“We need more opinions, and we need different types of expertise,” said board member Katie Gill. “The more people involved in solving the problem, the better.”

Because, after all, they are all residents of the mountain town they like to call the “nearest faraway place.”

“I’m really passionate about this stupid little place,” Jerome said. “I mean, I really am.”

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.