By Jan Wondra
Former Greenwood Village Mayor Harold W. Patton, Jr. died Feb. 28. Born in 1931, the Colorado native was 85. He was mayor during one of the most formative times in the history of Greenwood Village, from 1969 to 1977.
“I had the distinct honor and pleasure of knowing Harold Patton personally, not withstanding the hiatus between our service as mayors,” said Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky. “He was an extremely articulate person who had an engaging personality and maintained the ability to relate til lthe very end of his life.”
Patton grew up to become an Air Force pilot and moved to Greenwood Village in 1964. He served on the Colorado Aeronautical Board and was involved in the Arapahoe County Airport, which became today’s Centennial Airport.
Prior to 1967, Greenwood Village was predominately a residential area, with homes, farms and open space. Patton was elected to the City Council in 1965, just as the city was turning from rural to suburban. George Wallace, whose purchase of 40 acres at the edge of Denver had turned him into a developer, approached then- Mayor John Wood about annexing what he had begun to call the Denver Technological Center in to Greenwood Village. When Patton became mayor in 1969, he oversaw the transition from a city government based on residential property tax to a tax base built on commercial business to cover the cost of road maintenance, police protection and other services. Annexations also gave Greenwood Village the ability to control zoning in areas near existing neighborhoods.
The nearly decade-long expansion of Greenwood Village led by Patton created the outlines of the city today.
Patton himself defined it this way: “My council was made up entirely of business people, who were very bright. They knew that homes do not pay for themselves. The city needed a larger tax base.”
The 1975 annexation of land in the DTC and Greenwood Plaza, as well as land toward the east, blocked Denver’s attempted moves to the south and east, protecting the tax base for Cherry Creek Schools.
These moves (by Denver) “would leave Cherry Creek Schools standing empty with people paying for bonds,” said Patton.
The 1970s were known in Greenwood Village as an era of good government. Not only did Greenwood Village withdraw from the recreation district and create its own Parks Trails and Recreation, it began to focus on public spaces and art. In 1978, Greenwood Village government got a new home, building a two-structure complex at 6060 S. Quebec St.
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