Like most cities, there may seem to be a lot more traffic on the streets in Wheat Ridge, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a major population increase.
And some native residents who were born, raised, and – in some cases – worked their entire lives in the city have noted some changes.
Some facts on change:
• Birth records from Lutheran Medical Center show 26,226 babies born since 2011. That includes many born to mothers from outside the city. Changes in record-keeping and the advent of electronic health records prevented Lutheran officials from including birth figures for earlier years.
• The U.S. Census Bureau 2010 population estimate for Wheat Ridge was 30,166. The recently completed 2020 Decennial Census count was 32,398.
• The Census Bureau also reported 3.5 percent of census respondents said they moved to Wheat Ridge from a different state in the last year, while 11.5 percent said they relocated since 2017 or later.
• Meanwhile, the state demography office also found small changes in the city population since 2010. For 2020 it reported 32,365 Wheat Ridge residents. That’s up from 30,205 in 2010.
• A city community development department web page listed only 18 approved housing projects since 2010, with 11 of those scheduled to be under construction in 2020-21.
However, these statistics had little or no part in three long-time residents’ decisions to call Wheat Ridge home.
Some Things Changed As The City Grew
Allison MacDonald, 51, was born in Wheat Ridge, attended Prospect Valley Elementary, Everitt Middle and Wheat Ridge High schools. For 27 years, she was a teacher and counselor at Everitt. She retired in June. Her parents have lived in Wheat Ridge their entire lives.
A north Denver resident since she started teaching at Everitt, MacDonald received her degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“I didn’t plan to come back to Wheat Ridge but it just seemed to fall into place,” she said.
Some things changed as the city grew, MacDonald recalled. She remembered walking or riding bikes everywhere as a child. MacDonald also remembered the school’s three bike racks were always full when classes began, compared to just two or three bikes now.
“When I attended Everitt, I recall very few cars dropped off their kids for school,” she added. “Now it seems everyone drops off their kids or they ride the school bus.”
“I can drive around still to this day and remember what it felt like growing up here, largely because many neighborhoods feel the same as the 1970s and ‘80s,” she wrote in an email. “Quiet. Wide streets. Tons of beautiful trees. Aside from some residential and commercial development and increased traffic on Kipling (Street), Wheat Ridge still feel likes the Wheat Ridge I grew up in.”
While Leah Dozeman was born outside Wheat Ridge, she was raised, has lived and worked all her 31 years in the city. She is a city councilor and works at Lutheran. Her parents still live in Wheat Ridge and Dozeman is raising her two sons in the same home where she grew up.
“It’s been a wonderful home, with fond memories and some of the same neighbors as when I was growing up,” she said. “We just thought it would be a great place to raise another family.”
Dozeman recalled playing hide and seek and along the Clear Creek trail, but noted her neighborhood doesn’t have the same demographics: Fewer children for her sons to play with.
“There’s just not as many young families around, probably because there aren’t enough homes like ours and they’re not affordable,” she stated.
Beckie Scruggs is another born-and-raised in Wheat Ridge resident who attended school in the city until her junior year of high school (she graduated from Golden High School). Scruggs and her partner, Wade Gunn — a Wheat Ridge native and local high school graduate — returned to the city when they opened the Audacity Wine Bar & Lounge in 2018.
“I’m not sure it was a conscious decision on my part,” Scruggs said about returning to the city of her youth. “But we found the space we needed here. We definitely plan to stick around. The community is great, the people are great.”
The couple also has a son attending Wheat Ridge High School.
OUR FIRST BABY OF 2022! At Lutheran Medical Center of Wheat Ridge, Lexi Grimaldo welcomed Ariyah at 12:26 a.m., Jan. 1. The healthy girl weighed in at 6 lbs. and 7 oz. She was not the first baby born in the new year in the metro area, but the first at Lutheran. PHOTO COURTESY LUTHERAN MEDICAL CENTER