Darin Atteberry

City Manager, Fort Collins, Colo.

by / March 26, 2019
Flickr/Fort Collins

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In Fort Collins, Colo., the push to become a more connected and future-focused city took the form of a years-long effort to roll out a municipal broadband network that could grow with the evolving college town. Realizing the importance of high-speed Internet — and faced with telecom incumbents less than interested in breaking their business model for a new partnership — City Manager Darin Atteberry and a team of stakeholders picked up the mantel and began to push on their own.

But, the city as a whole was not convinced initially that a city-run network was the right approach. In fact, Atteberry and the rest of the team went to great lengths to vet the idea, even calling it the “underdog” solution to the connectivity problem.

“Through several years of conversation, the city council concluded a broadband municipal utility was the direction that we needed to head,” he explained.

The culmination of all of these efforts would be a public vote that, despite a substantial financial push by large telecoms, would be overwhelmingly positive and give legal legs to the movement. Atteberry is adamant that while the undertaking — which will eventually connect every parcel in city limits to reliable, high-speed service — happened under his watch as city manager, credit belongs to the team as a whole, framing himself as less the tip of the spear, and more one prong of a larger trident.

The team included: SeonAh Kendall, economic health manager; Coleman Keane, executive director of Connexion; Colin Garfield, citizen committee member and community organizer; Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell; Mike Beckstead, CFO; Patrick Burns, vice president of IT and dean of Libraries, Colorado State University; and others.

“What I realized is that it’s not about a leader, it’s about a team and a community that is really aspirational around its goals,” Atteberry said.

Eyragon Eidam Web Editor

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.

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