“Community Place Making” Cited as Key Goal for WP Revitalization”
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Investing in a small rural town’s downtown core has been a practice implemented for decades by municipalities across the country.
Moreover, it has proven to help revitalize growth in a city’s potential. Woodland Park is no exception in this growing trend to promote and spruce up the town’s main street area. The primary goal of Woodland Park’s Main Street Committee is to work with the city and other groups to increase the economic vitality of the businesses that make up Woodland’s heart and soul.
In the beginning of the year, Woodland Park’s Main Street put out a newsletter that announced all of the accomplishments the group made during the past year. Since then, the team of representatives from downtown entities have been coming up with new ideas to help shops in the downtown area stimulate business for 2020.
The main highlight of 2019 for the main street team was Small Business Saturday. Every year during the holiday that takes place the day after Black Friday and two days after Thanksgiving, Main Street sets up a tent downtown and volunteers hand out treats and grab bags full of coupons.
Last year, the team of volunteers braved the brutally cold and windy weather to man the Small Business Saturday tent. As a result of Main Street’s efforts on the local shopping holiday, they were one of 16 winners across the nation in the Main Street America Small Business Saturday innovation challenge and received a gift card to help with the organization’s goals.
In 2019, the organization also helped the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) when they decided to place the stagecoach sculpture that now sits at Burt Bergstrom Park. Main Street donated over $1,000 to the efforts from monies received from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
The accomplishments from the previous year also include the addition of new parking signs and pole banners. As of now, 26 new parking signs have been installed that point out various key landmarks in the center of the city.
Ten banners that are attached vertically parallel to the downtown core display branding for the town and short phrases that encourage every passer-by on Hwy. 24 to stop and shop, such as “Shop Local” and “Stay Local.” Last month, 10 banners sporting snowflakes and blue colors for the winter were installed; and in April, 10 more vibrant green banners specifically colored for the upcoming spring season, will replace them.
Community Place Making On the Agenda
Coming up soon is an opportunity for the public to learn and participate in a public input and engagement meeting regarding community place making. The event is slated to take place on Feb. 26 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and it is going to be put on by Bud Tymczyszn, a representative from the Community Builders non-profit organization. Community Builders recently helped the Main Street organization get the grant to focus on the team’s investment in the city’s downtown strip by improving things like walkability, signage, streetscapes and façade improvements.
According to Main Street Coordinator Gail Wingerd, community placement is a large part of the organization’s strategy to invest in the community and help build a strong future for the town. “Community Placement is creating a sense of place,” Wingerd explained. “And what that means is basically, ‘how do you create a sense of place?’ You can do this by beautification and by maybe having a seating area that’s inviting where you can have a cup of coffee with a friend. It is art and it’s a lot of different things, but that’s what place making is all about. It’s about making a place where people want to come and hang out.”
According to Wingerd, the public forum coming up will educate residents on what community place making is, inform them of the efforts already made towards the goal, and receive valuable input from local residents and business operators. During the meeting attendees will have the chance to voice their opinion and learn about the importance of Main Street’s efforts, as well as being informed about what the organization has already accomplished and why.
Wingerd also said that during the next year, Main Street already has new ideas in the works. Brand new signs will help visitors find main landmarks and businesses in the town.
This will occur by posting names of places with arrows pointing towards their locations, to be installed on key intersections in downtown Woodland Park. The organization also plans on expanding the efforts they conduct on Small Business Saturday to four weekends a year, as a part of their hopes to help businesses located within the heavily traveled strip in the center of the town succeed and grow.