by Rick Langenberg:
After much speculation, Woodland Park has received the official endorsement from the state as an official Main Street candidate.
“I think this is going to put us on the map,” said Councilman Gary Brovetto, who noted that Woodland faced some hefty competition. “These (communities vying for this candidacy) are not shrinking violets.” Brovetto has been a big spokesman for the town’s Main Street candidacy, along with its bid to develop a Creative Arts District.
With a Main Street designation, the next formal step in the process, the door could be open for more grant opportunities and much national publicity. The Main Street program falls under the control of the state Department of Local Affairs.
Last week, the city learned that its Main Street application was accepted by state officials. This followed a detailed process by a local volunteer committee, who met on a weekly basis. The other town that got the okay for its Main Street bid was Buena Vista. Altogether, at least six communities competed in the current cycle. Only two were accepted.
The Main Street program establishes committees for historic preservation and design, economic development, publicity and promotions. In essence, the program strives to spruce up downtown core areas, especially for smaller and medium-sized cities like Woodland Park, by developing key partnerships and funding opportunities. In the local region, the only town that has obtained a Main Street designation is Victor.
More lodging in Woodland
Besides getting a Main Street candidate endorsement, the council learned last week that plans could be unveiled soon for a new 80-room hotel outside the Country Lodge. This could complement a 40-suite expansion at the Country Lodge, which currently has about 60 units. Conceptual plans were outlined for the lodging project last week before the Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority. If the effort moves forward, the developers could qualify for tax increment financing incentives, amounting to tax rebates.
The subject of local lodging generated a lively discussion last week between Councilman Noel Sawyer and Woodland Park Economic Development Director Brian Fleer. Sawyer believes the Downtown Development Authority and the city should take a stronger role in promoting lodging. The councilman said he recently returned from a trip to such towns as Montrose, Ouray and Telluride, and cited their lodging amenities as a big plus and why they attract so many summer visitors.
He contends that more lodging would help Woodland Park become more of a destination area. Sawyer argued for promoting lodging, instead of pushing for big box stores. Fleer, though, cautioned that with the economic recession, some previous lodging projects fell through. But with an upturn in the economy and the changing dynamics of Woodland Park with Woodland Station and other developments, he expressed confidence that the lodging market is changing. He cited the arrival of the Charis Bible College as a big economic driver. “We know people are coming to Woodland Park,” said Fleer. “Our view has been let the market come to us,” said Fleer. “Maybe we are not a destination community because we don’t have lodging,” countered Sawyer.