by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG — Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI) spent two days in Walsenburg meeting and listening with people in the community and giving ideas or solutions to some of their concerns.
They were brought in to Walsenburg by the Downtown Revitalization Committee in conjunction with the City of Walsenburg, Department of Local Affairs, the USDA and Office of Economic Development.
The six person assessment team spent Monday touring areas of the city. The group walked through the downtown area and took bus tours to the hospital, Lathrop State Park, the water park, the prison, Northlands, the schools, the new sports complex, library and all of the entrances into the city. They met with business leaders, local government officials and citizens in a variety of meetings.
Tuesday night the assessment team met with about 100 people at the Fox Theatre to offer their preliminary ideas and solutions. The business district area of interest was defined as all of Main Street from the miner statue to the Anchor Motel, all of West 7th Street, and the built up business blocks along 5th and 6th Streets.
The team suggested that painting and cleaning up some of the downtown store fronts would go a long way to getting more people passing through town to stop. Use your buildings as your signs by having them neat, attractive and lighted. Filling up windows of empty storefronts will make downtown look more appealing. “You can’t sell your town to others if it doesn’t look clean,” was one of the comments made. Offer carrots to building owners by offering grant-loan programs to help them clean up their store fronts. Consider putting in safe walk and bike connections from the downtown area to other locations in the city.
It was suggested that in developing the Northlands area, that businesses being brought in don’t compete with downtown retailers while also expanding on tourist type businesses like hotels, restaurants and service oriented companies for travelers. Northlands is considered by the group to be an economic driver that can bring in additional sales tax revenue and jobs to help all of Walsenburg grow.
The DCI team said Walsenburg’s various groups and organizations need to work together instead of against each other. People need to