Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Downtown Streetscape & Business District Funding

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs sets 2008 goals
Streetscape and business district funding dominate agenda for new year
By Melinda Dudley (Contact) / Steamboat Pilot/TODAY
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Steamboat Springs — For Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, the new year brings a chance for another special election to fund the Downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District.

Along with getting a property tax measure passed for the district in November, Mainstreet’s other top objective for 2008 is funding the Downtown Streetscape Improvement Plan, which still is in the design stages, Executive Director Tracy Barnett said Tuesday at the organization’s annual membership meeting.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is planning large-scale improvements on Lincoln Avenue, scheduled to begin in summer 2009. As a result, Mainstreet plans to work heavily with consultants from Britina Design Group in the coming year, to develop Steamboat’s proposed downtown improvements and implement them along with the CDOT work.

Britina’s tentative proposals include the possibility of creating bike lanes down the center of Yampa Street, and making that street curve subtly to evoke the adjacent Yampa River. Other options include clearly defined, mid-block pedestrian crossings and pedestrian plazas on Lincoln Avenue.

After three general public meetings were held on the streetscape plan last year, Britina will now meet with special interest groups, such as bicyclists, to get their input, Barnett said.

Downtown is the city’s biggest asset in terms of “the Steamboat brand,” said Towny Anderson, president of Mainstreet’s Board of Directors.

Accordingly, Mainstreet views formalizing the status of the business improvement district as essential for achieving financial stability and being able to demonstrate long-term financial commitment to its public investment projects, Barnett said.

The business improvement district was founded in June 2007 to fund marketing, advocacy, parking management and beautification projects in the downtown core. But the district lacks its own source of funding after a property tax increase within its boundaries — between Yampa and Oak streets from Second to 13th streets — was defeated by six votes in a special election last year.

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs has guaranteed funding from the city only through 2008. The business improvement district was designed to provide a clear financial future for downtown business advocacy efforts and public investment projects.

“Until we get to that position, it’s going to be very difficult to ask other people to invest in what we can’t invest in ourselves,” Barnett said.

Mainstreet is working on forming a new business improvement district committee and developing a strategic plan for next year’s election.

“It’s important this year that we get more participation from the stakeholders so they tell us what they really want,” Barnett said.

At Tuesday’s annual meeting, Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat was awarded Mainstreet’s Business of the Year award, and volunteers and officers for the organization were also honored.

“Art has been elevated to a new level, and downtown becoming an art and entertainment district is closer to becoming a reality,” Barnett said.

Mainstreet’s membership also re-elected its 2007 leadership — Anderson will serve another year as president, Bill Moser as vice president and Ruth Dombrowski as treasurer for the Board of Directors.