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EDITORIAL: The state of Aurora — Big things are happening here to make the city even better

May 24, 2017

Take a moment and just be proud, Aurora. You deserve it.

Mayor Steve Hogan last week during his annual state-of-the-city address ticked off a long list of reasons Aurora should boast about what it’s done, and what’s about to happen.

For decades, Aurora has been wrongly treated as the red-headed step-child of Front Range communities, mostly because too few people understand Aurora’s biggest accomplishment and challenge: it’s big. Aurora is really big. Land-wise, it’s the biggest city in the state. Population-wise, it ranks at number three.

For many who grew up here in the ’60s and ’70s, Aurora outpaced its reputation as just another Denver suburb. Expansive growth and a real urban corridor have long resulted in headlines about urban life that wrongly gave Aurora a reputation as being plagued by crime. Numbers don’t lie, and Aurora is the safest large city in the state and among the safest large cities in the country. Yes, really.

More importantly, our neighbors often overlook that Aurora is home not to just 360,000-plus residents, it’s home to Buckley Air Force Base and myriad contractors there. It’s home to the state’s only medical school, University of Colorado Hospital, and the massive Anschutz medical and research campus, as well as one of the country’s most productive and vibrant bio-science centers. Aurora is home to Cherry Creek and Aurora Public schools. The city is where one of the country’s largest and probably the-most-state-of-the-art Veterans Administration hospitals will open next year. This is the home of Children’s Hospital Colorado and The Medical Center of Aurora. This is where The Stanley Marketplace, Dry Dock Breweries and a host of other craft beer barons call home. Aurora is home not only to dozens and dozens of remarkable ethnic restaurants, shops and markets, it’s home to one of Amazon’s regional warehouse and delivering hubs. There are thousands of businesses here in Aurora, one of the state’s premier water suppliers and home to some of the best regional theaters in the country.

Aurora is big, and getting bigger. Soon, The Gaylord of the Rockies Conference Center will open on the city’s eastern border. It won’t be far from where developers are hoping to create a new community of about 60,000 people, dubbed Aurora Highlands.

The city has come a long way from being the Town of Fletcher at the turn of the last century. It has a long ways to go.

Hogan hinted that, at long last, there may be a workable plan for a major cultural events center in the city, something Aurora has badly needed and wanted. And while the city has attracted a host of the usual and unusual cultural and gastronomic additions, it’s sorely missing unique additional dining and art talent that will make Aurora a more complete city in its own right.

Those moves will take courage and determination. Aurora must solidify its arts district mission on Colfax. It must wield greater power in its counties to provide for all our residents. It must take on risk, and debt.

But for now, be proud of what Aurora leaders, government workers, police, firefighters and dreamers have accomplished. The state of Aurora? Big, getting bigger, and getting even better.