The room in the Elks Civic Building was packed and lively as people gathered around standing flip charts and paper covered tables where their ideas were recorded after a presentation on the survey by Lois Brink, director of the Center for Community Development at the University of Colorado-Denver.
More people than expected showed up and Mayor Kathy Ellis, sitting toward the back of the room, said she had trouble hearing what Brink was saying at times, but there was great interaction with the audience, at least those on the first few rows.
Ellis was pleased with the turnout, she said, and excited that among other things, people were discussing the types of businesses that will succeed in the downtown area.
Roland McCook, great-grandson of Chief Ouray, was also a participant and said he was pleased with the efforts to see what ideas people can come up with.
“The more people they get to comment, the more diversity there is,” he said.
After Brink spoke, many of those present joined breakout groups to build on the information provided by the survey and ideas put forth to the Downtown Development Authority, which is less than a year old.
This is just the beginning of a planning process to decide what happens downtown, said Assistant City Manager Scott Sellars. Hiring Brink cost the city $42,000, but it was well worth it, he said.
“This is another step in the overall process,” he said. “This group will help create our overall plan.”
The final plan will no doubt call for capital improvements, Sellars said, which the DDA will help underwrite, thanks to a mill levy that voters approved last spring.
The results of the survey will soon be posted on the city’s website at www.cityofmontrose.org.
As they sat talking about Brink’s presentation, Betty Oglesby and Roy Dantzman, both downtown business owners, agreed that the meeting was going well and “ideas are flowing,” Oglesby said.
But business has been rough for everyone downtown. Jovis Coffee just closed in a building Dantzman owns on West Main Street, but he says he’s not daunted, and is furnishing the storefront himself with the hope that another coffee shop will open there.
Dantzman said Montrose is facing challenges like never before. Thirty or 40 years ago, before Interstate 70 was built, it was insulated from economic ups and downs because people had to drive through town. Back then there was more of a balance between mining and agriculture and local retail, he said, noting a sign at the entrance to town was a wagon wheel with the words “Hub of the Western Wonderland.”
“I want to revive that,” Dantzman said.
Reviving downtown is what Tuesday’s meeting was all about, and the process toward developing a master plan will continue, Sellars said, and everyone is invited to get involved. Meetings of the DDA board, open to the public, are held the first and third Mondays of each month, and work sessions are held the second and fourth Mondays of the month. All meetings are held in the Centennial Meeting Room at the City Hall Annex and start at 3 p.m.