Lone Tree at 20, Part 1 of 3: Before growing tall, Lone Tree started small
When Sharon Van Ramshorst moved to what is now Lone Tree in November 1982, she was one of the first nine residents of the largely rural area in northern Douglas County. Incorporation as a city was still 13 years in the future.
“It was all pastures,” said Van Ramshorst, who would serve on city council from 2004-12. “We had these Lone Tree stickers we would put on our car. The roads weren’t great, and in the winter you could get stuck and there might not be anyone to help you. If someone saw that you had a sticker they would stop and give you a ride home or help you out.”
Lone Tree covered roughly one square mile and had a population of 3,000 when it incorporated in 1995. The original boundary of the city largely followed that of the Park Meadows Metropolitan District. It was outlined by County Line Road, Lincoln Avenue, Yosemite Street and the border with Highlands Ranch.
As the city marks the 20th anniversary of its incorporation this month, it spreads across 9.6 square miles and has a population of 12,779.
Lone Tree has grown into a hub of commerce, home to the likes of Park Meadows mall and Charles Schwab. It has come a long way in two decades, and its population and promise are set to surge in the next 20 years.
Few could have seen this coming — but some did, or at least envisioned similar possibilities.
One of those people was former Mayor Jack O’Boyle. He arrived in December 1994 from San Diego after being transferred to the area for his job with Martin Marietta. He still lives in the Lone Tree townhome he purchased.
“The HOA president called us up and said, hey, there are some people who are talking about forming a new city and they are having an information session in our neighborhood,” O’Boyle said. “I thought it would be a great way to meet the neighbors.”
O’Boyle went to the meeting and soon found himself involved with a committee to form a new city.
“The only thought that went through my head was how often in one’s life does one get to be involved in the beginning of a new city,” he said.
Area residents hoped incorporating would allow them to provide the parks, roads, trails and infrastructure they wanted. At the same time, they had concerns about other municipalities wanting to annex retail areas like Park Meadows.
Over the next year, O’Boyle and other committee members put together a potential ballot measure.
“We supported it. I thought it was just the best thing,” Van Ramshorst said.
A unanimous decision among the committee members was made to fund the city with only sales tax, and 1.5 percent would suffice.
They contacted residents, drafted the measure, established a financial plan and defined city limits.
“Those were essentially defined as the boundaries of the Park Meadows Metropolitan District,” O’Boyle said. “The reason was because those boundaries were already drawn and we didn’t have any money for a new survey.”
Voters approved the incorporation with 676 votes in favor and only 165 against in November 1995.
The city held its first council meeting in June 1996, with O’Boyle as mayor. He served as the city’s mayor for 12 years.
Also at that meeting was Jack Hidahl, the first city manager.
“I often think how fortunate I was to be at the right place at the right time to be a part of it,” he said.
In the early years, the town founders had to learn as they went when it came to the complexities of running as city
JohnCotten has been working for Lone Tree since the beginning as public works director and even conducted the first official survey of the land.
“There was no city code at all, so we had to create it,” said Cotten.
The new city had limited funds, so residents sold Lone Tree memorabilia, hats, license-plate holders and T-shirts to raise money.
Douglas County provided law enforcement and nearly every other town official was a consultant who volunteered his or her time.
But Lone Tree was now a real city — and one poised for big things.
“I looked at the surrounding area: Highlands Ranch is still unincorporated, Parker was a small village to the east and Castle Rock to the south,” O’Boyle said. “There was no Centennial. So we were an incorporated city inside Douglas County, and I saw opportunities for expansion. Over the next 30 to 40 years, there would be opportunities to grow, and we should provide for that.”
Article Courtesy of LoneTreeVoice.net