‘A culture of excellence’

Terry Nolan answers 10 questions as he prepares to leave metro district


Beginning in January, the Highlands Ranch Metro District will have its third-ever general manager starting in the position. But before the new leader, Mike Renshaw, begins the job, the metro district will say goodbye to its current manager, Terry Nolan.

Nolan, who held the position for 24 years, will retire at the end of the year. Here, he answers 10 questions from the Highlands Ranch Herald about his years working with the metro district, his future roles in Douglas County and his reflections on the pandemic.

1. What has been your favorite part about working as the Highlands Ranch Metro District general manager?

It has been great working with the boards and staff to consistently deliver top-notch facilities and services but my favorite was working in the field with the troops and seeing people enjoy those facilities and services.

2. What do you see as your biggest
accomplishment as the general

The following are among the many accomplishments of the metro district staff while I was the general manager: building 16 parks including Redstone Park and Civic Green Park; building the Lucent interchange on C-470 as well as the other infrastructure that allowed Highlands Ranch to grow; building outdoor recreation programs from zero to over 11,000 participants; renovation and operation of the Highlands Ranch Mansion; helping transition fire and emergency services from the City of Littleton to South Metro Fire Rescue, which has improved service and includes the opening of our fourth fire station next March; our financial strength, which allows great facilities and services. That said, I am most proud of helping develop a culture of excellence in which people take pride in what they do for the great community of Highlands Ranch.

3. What do you hope to see in the future of the Highlands Ranch Metro District?

A continuation of that culture.

4. What are you looking forward to after retiring?

After more than 50 years of working in public service with the U.S. Navy and the metro district, I look forward to continuing to serve as a volunteer with Douglas County Libraries, the American Legion, the Highlands Ranch Mansion, First Tee and perhaps with the Douglas County sheriff. I also look forward to uncrowded midweek skiing and hiking.

5. What can you tell our readers about the differences between Highlands Ranch when you first started the job and now?

There’s just more of it. When I started we had 33,000 people, 10 parks, some open space and one recreation center. Now we have close to 100,000 people, 26 parks, lots of open space and four recreation centers. But I do not think that change is bad because we have executed the master plan, which allowed for enough of the things we need so that we have the same high quality of life as we did when I started. There are just a lot more people enjoying our great lifestyle.

6. What will you miss the most about this position?

The great people that I have been so fortunate to have worked with, including our many partners and board members, but mostly the outstanding metro district staff.

7. What’s your favorite spot in Highlands Ranch?

That’s easy — the Highlands Ranch Mansion and its grounds, ultimately to include the rest of the historic park.

8. What has it been like to work in this role over the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Challenging. Just about everything we do has been impacted. We stayed open and working throughout but it took tremendous resilience by our staff to deal with the ever-changing guidelines. Perhaps our facilities and services are even more important than normal because people need to be able to get outdoors when indoor facilities are closed or limited. I am really proud of the way the metro district staff adapted to continue to provide excellent facilities and services during these challenging times.

9. What’s something you’ve learned this past year with all the struggles and difficulties we’ve seen as a result of the pandemic?

I’ve learned that we, all of us, have a tremendous ability to adapt and still deliver even during this particularly challenging time. If it means completely revising a recreation program to meet federal, state or Tri-County Health Department guidelines — we did it. If it means conducting a polling place election under pandemic protocols — we did it. If it means conducting public meetings of the board of directors via Zoom — we did it.

10. Any other final thoughts for the community?

This is my home for many good reasons — great people, just look at all the volunteers who play a vital role in all of the organizations that serve Highlands Ranch as well as the terrific people who work on the staffs of our service providers; great facilities, just look at our 26 outstanding parks, HRCA’s four great recreation centers, Douglas County Libraries’ terrific Highlands Ranch library, Centennial Water’s well-maintained and reliable water and wastewater system, excellent schools provided by Douglas County School District, great roads maintained by Douglas County, excellent Douglas County sheriff’s substation and the awesome open space maintained by the metro district and HRCA which is 60% of our community. All of this and more is provided for very reasonable taxes, fees and assessments. I encourage my fellow residents to take a look under the hood of these service organizations, you will like what you find. You can start with the Metro District at highlandsranch.org. I am proud to call Highlands Ranch home. See you on the trails and pickleball courts and in the parks and recreation centers.


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