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City assessment report presented

by staff reports
WALSENBURG— After months of waiting, the downtown assessment report done by Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) has been released to the public.
The initial interview and assessment period was October 22-23, 2012. People and organizations were encouraged to meet with the DCI team in four sessions and give them their input, as well as having the DCI folks visit the community to get their own independent assessment. They toured Main St and areas outside the downtown core. They also read the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) report and met with city officals, citizens and community stakeholders.
At the end of the second day, the DCI team presented their initial findings to interested parties at the Fox Theatre. This week’s presentation includes recommendations and a proposed timeline to implement them. The entire report is over 80 pages in length.
According to Karen Wilson of Downtown Walsenburg Revitalization Committee (DWRC), there will be four public meetings with business owners, government officials and other interested parties to review the report in detail and discuss its implementation.
In an overview of the report, the DCI team make the following observations and recommendations:
“There are many stakeholders who are passionate about the improvement and development of Walsenburg, but the general population seems less involved.
Walsenburg has faced a lot of adversity in recent years, but there have been great accomplishments, like the restoration of a historic school as a new home for the library.
Walsenburg is in a great location, near the interstate and close to the mountains, with huge opportunities with 3.5 million cars passing through downtown each year. It has attainable opportunities to be capitalized on.”
The report stresses the need for organization, which includes developing collaboration, volunteer recruitment and management, fundraising for the organization and developing operational strategies.
The three principal components of organization are: Public and media relations, volunteer development and fundraising.
“The most successful communities accomplish their desired outcomes by developing a solid organization component early in the process to oversee and manage their efforts.
If the community does not create and develop a solid organizational component to oversee and manage the process early on, the program risks fading away before it has a chance to succeed.”
Given these realities, the report says it cannot overemphasis the importance of placing organizational development among the highest priorities.
Most, if not all, of the recommendations are being made within the framework of this happening.
The report recommends declaring the downtown area as a priority for Walsenburg, and dedicate resources to insure its vitality.
It recommends defining the downtown to include 7th St.
It suggests continuing to support the Downtown Revitalization project and use General Improvement District (GID) funding.
The report suggests clarifying objectives for marketing and business support organizations.
Some words of wisdom the report leaves with its readers-
“Together you prosper, divided you fall. Learn to support each other.”

Bertha Trujillo

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