Looking back on 150 years: Longmont entices FAA air traffic control center

Kelsey Hammon, Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
·8 min read

Apr. 5—In honor of Longmont's 150th birthday, the Times-Call is taking a look back at the events that have made history, as told on our pages. A newspaper article from the past will run once a month.

The article title might not reveal much about the historic nature of the vote that occurred that April day in 1960, when City Council members took action on a utilities extension to entice the Federal Aviation Administration to build its roughly $4 million facility in Longmont. The operation still exists at 2211 17th Ave.

According to the book "The First 150 Years," by Longmont Museum Curator of History Erik Mason, Longmont found out it was in the running for a new FAA center when Clifford Halton, an FAA engineer, called Longmont City Council members in February 1960. Halton explained Longmont was one of nine cities being considered for the project.

On June 23, 1962, the FAA was welcomed by 2,000 people and a 26-car parade during a dedication ceremony, according to the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Below is a transcript of the April 20, 1960, article from the Times-Call:

Council Unanimously Approves Utilities Extension

In an historic, one-hour special meeting, the Longmont City Council Tuesday afternoon unanimously approved extending municipal utilities to the property line of the new $4 million FAA Air Control Center.

The operation mainly concerns bringing the sewer and water lines to the site where the center is located approximately 700 feet east of the Hover Road on the Hygiene Road.

At the opening of the special meeting, Mayor Al Will stated that its object was to bring the council up-to-date on the control center developments.

The mayor said that within five years the center is expected to employ 750 persons at annual salaries ranging from $7,500 to $16,000.

Federal Aid Seen

Will's statements were followed by discussions which brought out that federal aid may be available to assist the city's project. The sewer will have to be extended from Mountain View avenue and Francis street; E. George Patterson Jr., city treasurer, said the City Engineer Ken Bruns may be able to get some federal aid.

Councilman Wade Gaddis brought out that Longmont's excellent water supply, sewers, parks, hospital, recreation facilities and schools played an important part in the final selection of the site.

"I feel this installation is a prize for Longmont," Alderman Ralph Price said after the discussion. "Gauged by its size, character and high calibre of personnel, it just can't be beat. This is my sincere opinion. My only hope is that real estate speculation can be kept under control."

Gaddis voiced the opinion that, "No one would benefit by such speculation and I am sure our real estate people will see that it doesn't get out of control."

Councilman A.K. Fairbairn observed that, "The preliminary work is now done for expansion. We have the needed water and other resources for the project, and our schools and recreational facilities can be enlarged to fit into the picture."

"As far as police and fire needs are concerned," Councilman George Nelson said, "The water and sewer lines should be large enough to take care of the future demands due to more building in the area. The project will pay for itself by use, but it must be big enough to do the job."

Vote is unanimous

Price then suggested that action be taken by the council. Fairbairn moved that the lines be extended to the site's property line and that Price be empowered to co-ordinate that action with Cliff Halton. FAA project engineer who is expected here Thursday for a conference. The motion was quickly passed unanimously. It was seconded by Lilly.

Price then moved that the action of the Mayor and Councilmen Fred Korte and Wade Gaddis in going to San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote the project be approved. It also passed unanimously. The second was by Nelson.

A motion allowing purchase of necessary equipment consisting of a minor engineering device, plus needed man power for a sewer survey was offered by Lilly. Unanimous passage followed quickly.

Chamber of Commerce Thanked

Korte expressed appreciation to the Chamber of Commerce for its cooperation including the drive to secure land for the site.

"I am grateful for the fine cooperation of the council in this action," Mayor Will said. "This is a historic meeting for Longmont."

Lilly then moved that Gaddis be empowered to work with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regarding an electrical sub-station near the control center. The vote was unanimous for its approval.

Water Line Discussed

Price discussed (and) requested extension of an 18-inch water line to Main street and Hygiene road. He cited requests for the extension by persons in that section and said the present line was too small to serve a proposed recreation center. The city planning commission has approved a request to rezone the area for business. Since the area is now in the county, the zoning request goes to the county planning commission and county commission for action.

The opinion of the council was that if persons interested in the new line pay for it, the work could be done. They could be reimbursed as new taps go into the line.

Just before the meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m. Price moved the mayor and his committee be reimbursed for expenses entailed by the West Coast trip. The motion also passed unanimously.

In opening the meeting the mayor brought out that some eight weeks ago Korte was contacted by Halton who explained that the FAA was looking for a location to place an air control center.

Competition Tough

Colorado Springs, Greeley, Brighton, Fort Collins, Fort Lupton, Boulder and Palmer Lake also were being considered, Halton said. Korte was told six other FAA persons were to inspect Longmont.

Greeley and Loveland then became active competitors offering free land utilities for the installation. Greeley sent a delegation to Washington.

"Longmont had to offer the same opportunities to stay in the running," Will said. "That's when Councilman Korte Gaddis and I went to the West Coast at our own expense. We were warned our activities had to be kept secret if we could expect success. That's why I couldn't report to the council.

"We saw installations there at Oakland, Fremont and Los Angeles. Than came delay due to Greeley's activities and a re-evaluation of the sites. But Longmont finally got the control center and I want to thank you for all your support."

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The following article, announcing a Chamber of Commerce drive to raise funds to purchase the property, appeared in the same edition. Here is a transcript of that article.

$11,500 In So Far As Drive Gets Under Way

In a matter of hours, the Longmont Chamber of Commerce FAA site fund drive raised $11,500 from local business firms.

Chamber President Tom Brock said that by Thursday evening the entire business and professional section of the city will have been contacted by the organization for the drive (that) was set up late Tuesday.

Contact teams of two men each are now recruiting 40 additional business and professional men to serve as campaign workers. In turn, these men will contact the balance of the chamber membership in the next 24 hours.

A meeting of the 40 volunteer workers will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday at the chamber office. Final instructions and details of the drive for $40,000 then will be discussed.

"We will welcome contributions for the FAA site purchase from anyone willing to invest in the future of Longmont," Brock added.

Checks should be made out to: "Chamber of Commerce FAA fund" and turned into the chamber office, 455 Kimbark St., as soon as possible.

"No figure has been set per contributor," explained John Hough, vice president and one of the drive leaders. "We know that in order to raise the necessary funds, we must average at least $150 per member of the 250 business firms belonging to the chamber organization."

Advance contact workers already in the field include Avery Caldwell, Lyle Barnard, Harold Pratt, Frank Flanders, Charles Durning, Hough, Reed Walker, F.D. Brownswell, Ivan Forbes, Vern Golden, Ken Rarick, and Brock.

"We want it understood that this fund drive is to raise the money necessary to purchase the land on the proposed site from John Stroh," Brock explained. "Mr. Stroh actually dropped the per acre cost to the chamber from that figure he earlier asked the government. He also has legitimate offers from other people who would like to purchase his acreage. There are no commissions, travel expense or any other expense except for the land itself. That's where every cent will go."

Brock also said the chamber would return contributions to each donor in the event the project was lost for any cause. If it is oversubscribed, a proportional return will be made to each donor.