Fort Collins — a City Tested Over Time
with contributions from
North Forty News
I walked into Fort Collins’ City Hall and sat in the lobby waiting for my appointment to interview Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell. Reading the various City literature on the table in front of me, I was drawn to the historical pictures circulating on the flat screen tv on the wall next to me. It was a presentation about the old buildings in Old Town and the historical places those living in Fort Collins pass on a regular basis. In this historical setting, I couldn’t help but be a little excited to meet a man who has lived in this City since the day he was born.
Wade came out to greet me and we walked to his unassuming office in the corner of City Hall on West Laporte Avenue. I was pleasantly surprised when we moved to an area in his office where we could chat comfortably.
As we began talking, the time sped by before I even brought out my notepad. I soon learned that Wade is a man of integrity, historical perspective, and great knowledge. Born at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins Wade grew up in the Mantz neighborhood north of campus in Old Town. Wade went to school at Poudre School District’s Dunn, Lincoln, and Poudre High schools. He continued on to CSU on a football scholarship, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering.
Continuing his life in Fort Collins, Wade was working at Kodak in Windsor when his academic advisor suggested he return to CSU for his doctorate. He then graduated in 1987 with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering focusing on Robotic Task Planning Generation.
Wade then went on a NATO post-doc in Intelligent Robotics research at Edinburgh University in the Department of Artificial Intelligence. Wade came back home to work at CSU in mechanical engineering to teach and perform research in robotics and engineering design. Wade’s experience on the faculty at CSU, his studies abroad, and exposure to world-class universities and cities, continues to inform his vision for Fort Collins.
As a child in the 60’s and early 70’s, Wade’s father was on City Council from 1964-1971. Wade recalled being interested in City Council and riding his bike to attend City Council meetings while he was in junior high.
Wade has personally known every Fort Collins Mayor for the past 50 years.
When Wade was 14, Mayor Karl Carson was challenged to a running race called the “Walk for Mankind” by the ASCSU student body president. Mayor Carson graciously accepted and asked Wade to serve as Fort Collins’ “Mayor for the Day.” His future as a leader was seemingly precast at an early age.
Since the 70’s Wade says decisions made by City Council showed extraordinary foresight. They created the infrastructure and culture that has made the “choice city” into Colorado’s 4th largest city while maintaining a sense of small town friendliness. Improvements like underground electric power lines approved by City Council in 1969, created not just better views but ensured a stronger city infrastructure that provides continual service even in the worst weather. That was also the year Fort Collins ended being a dry city bringing liquor sales and restaurants that sold liquor into the city limits along with jobs and tax revenues.
The list of improvements grew and continues to the present day including transportation, planning, infrastructure, culture, and recreation (to name a few).
Wade’s passion for Fort Collins led him to run for City Council in 2007 in District 4. Elected Mayor in 2015, he is currently in his second term. His initial focus was on innovation which led to Fort Collins being profiled as one of 6 “places of invention”cities at the Smithsonian in the US Museum of American History in Washington, DC. In his second term he ran using inclusiveness as the central theme “everyone for all in our community.”
Wade announced last week that he will run for a third and final term this April. He said his focus will be on iconic future looking at Fort Collins 50 years into the City’s future. He used broadband as an example. Wade explained how he believes broadband will be transformative for Fort Collins due the businesses it will attract along with the talented workforce and improved quality of life.
How will Fort Collins look in the future? Unmanned aircraft and driverless cars are coming. Wade believes a new certification for the regional airport’s remote air tower could help build a niche for a drone landing space. He mentioned how some in this area are speculating that Northern Colorado could be a destination for a growing drone industry that will create jobs well into the future.
He says the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Colorado and Fort Collins will attract new businesses, new talent, and new technology to our area. Having Colorado State University and the Innosphere in Fort Collins is key to a vibrant ecosystem that enhances our economic vitality for the community and the region.
Wade says what sets Fort Collins apart from anywhere else in Colorado is the passion its people have for a better community. The community is open to new ideas, measured risk-taking, and inclusion for all. This is consistent with the foresight from past City leaders who embraced innovation and changes that made Fort Collins the better place it is today and well-positioned for the future. Wade wants to honor their legacy — and leave a legacy of his own.