Housing, health care and a wealth of amenities make this Rocky Mountain community a standout
Try to catch Dennis Coombs for a chat, and you may have to wait until he’s finished biking up a mountain. At 64 he’s a triathlete and a health buff. And he’s also the mayor of Longmont, CO.
Coombs jokes that he’s “the fastest elected official in Colorado,â€ but he’s serious about being what he calls “the poster boyâ€ for a local health coalition and Longmont’s first fit mayor.
“I like the fact that Longmont is becoming a really healthy community,â€ said Coombs, who admits that a healthy lifestyle wasn’t always his choice, but became a necessity when he moved from Oregon to Colorado, where hiking in the mountains left him feeling like he had “one foot in the grave.”
Longmont consistently appears on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list and scores especially high in health and health care. Coombs attributes that to a community-wide emphasis on living well, shared by young and older residents alike. Fitness is made easier, he said, because of the easy availability of mountain biking and hiking trails open to everyone, and lots of public parks.
“Our pools are packed, in fact we need to build more pools and maybe even an ice rink in future. At McIntosh Lake, even in the winter, there are hundreds of people walking around the lake on a 3.5-mile trail,â€ Coombs said. “Saturday mornings I see a lot of people, hundreds and hundreds, who come out to the farmers market to buy fruits and vegetables. And there are a lot more vegan and vegetarian options in our restaurants – pretty much everywhere you go you find two or three options.”
An important factor in building the community’s awareness of good health is Live Well Longmont, a coalition of dozens of governmental, health, business and community organizations pledged to support wellness in schools, businesses and the community. It sponsors a variety of programs and events, ranging from educating kids on how to get to schools safely to training for school nutrition services employees to Weigh and Win kiosks in the public library.
Besides good health, there’s a lot to love in this city of just under 100,000 people. The state-designated Downtown Longmont Creative District offers a wealth of fun and interesting things to do, from galleries and art tours to restaurants and bars. Spend an evening listening to music during the downtown summer concert series. Get to know the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene via Brewhop Trolley tours, or learn about how cheese is made at the Art of Cheese. Sky dive. Hike or bike the greenway. Play a round of golf at one of several outstanding courses. Or maybe just visit with the locals you meet, an increasingly interesting group as high-tech and other businesses bring all kinds of people to town.
“One of the things I really value about Longmont is our cultural diversity,â€ Coombs says. “We have Peruvian soccer, and we celebrate the Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo. And we celebrate all together. It’s great to have a city so diverse, with so many different cultures. If we were all the same, Longmont would be pretty boring.”