Editorial: Downtown needs vision

Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Chris Nichols

— Community representative

• Jeff Pleasant

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

Last weekend’s annual Art Walk & Taste of Chocolate events were a sweet and popular success, driving foot traffic to downtown Craig. The popularity and synergy of the events should be a template for improving and taking better advantage of downtown. The real question is whether anyone is bold enough to do it.

There have been several issues regularly raised by each editorial board the Craig Daily Press has formed the last several years.

No matter the composition of the board, the need for an improved educational system, better sidewalks, more parental involvement, and a diversified economy are always popular topics.

So, too, is an improved downtown.

Downtown came up once again during Monday’s editorial board meeting.

The current board touched on threads of downtown others in the past have: its’ nice mix of restaurants and retail and service businesses; the vast potential that exists to improve the area to increase foot traffic; and the head-scratching question of why more hasn’t been done to tap into that potential.

Saturday night was an example of what downtown could be throughout the year: the area hosted the 17th annual Art Walk & sixth annual Taste of Chocolate, along with an inaugural youth art show, bringing an estimated 500-plus people into the area on a weekend night.

Not only were the number of participants sizable, the events were also quality, with a number of visitors commenting on the skillful work of the 21 artists and 16 chocolatiers showcased.

The events should be a template to local officials, downtown business merchants, and the Downtown Business Association for future events in the district.

However, if the past has taught us anything, it’s the events will be the exception rather than the rule, which is regrettable considering downtown’s potential for success lies just beneath the surface of its largely dormant current state.

Downtown’s failures don’t necessarily belong to any one group or person. Rather, the shortcomings of the district belong to the community as a whole, and can also be attributed to a shortage of people with the proper vision, desire and follow-through willing to revitalize the area.

The editorial board encourages more officials and groups to get involved with downtown.

Could the Moffat County Tourism Association, Craig Chamber of Commerce and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership help design plans to provide a needed jolt to the area?

Could the City of Craig, with its numerous employees and elected leaders, take up the cause, too, by contributing personnel and resources?

Could the DBA, the group with the most at stake downtown, be more aggressive in pushing for events like Whittle the Wood to be relocated to an area that makes sense for visitors and businesses — yes, downtown — rather than some off the grid location at the edge of town?

We know a few things for certain regarding downtown districts in general and ours specifically.

We know it’s been proven in numerous areas throughout the country people enjoy downtowns. They like being pedestrians and being able to shop and grab a bite to eat without being in their cars.

We know businesses on the ground floor and apartments or condos upstairs are proven to work, providing a built-in customer base. We know business hours can’t be limited to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We know local consumers will pay slightly higher prices with smaller merchants rather than big box stores, if they’re given good enough reason to.

And we know few of these established methods are currently utilized in our downtown, which again, is a failure of vision rather than potential.

With emphasis and effort, the 400 and 500 blocks of Yampa Avenue can become a popular, successful area benefiting community members and businesses. Plenty of people have recognized and said as much.

The real question is, who’s going to do something about it?

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Comments

Cole White 2 years, 2 months ago

Urban Sprawl - Little towns as well as large cities suffer from it. Traffic (consumer not automobile) has moved west of town. Wal-mart, City Market, Walgrens, fast food, hospital, etc. is on the west-central and west end of town, while shops, buildings and store fronts on the east side sit empty. Planning and zoning can help, as well as better promotion, but this is a problemn that should have been addressed years when it started happening and not now. Art walks are great, but they don't solve the problem of spawl. Yes they get foot traffic down town, but don't really create profits for the business in that area as they have very small margins and the increased cost of such events wipe out any profit they may get. A few buildings in the downtown area need to be raised and new ones constructed that will bring in new businesses to the downtown area. The current configuration is not good for new business models. Poor parking and their ability to put up signs is one major factor, the others include space, complimentary services, and visibility. And the only way to get around these issues in downtown areas is to have investors put cash in that area of town........and I don't see that happening any time soon. If MJK and the movie theatre move West.....there won't be much draw to the downtown area except the court house.....

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bkwranch 2 years, 2 months ago

From OP to City Market headed west and from City Market around to OP again headed east are "dead zones" as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why or how these "one-ways" occurred; it's been that way since I moved here in the late 80's but as far as I'm concerned, it has outlived any purpose it might have had once upon a time and it has killed downtown shopping. Those one-way lanes just tell folks to "get through these areas as soon as you can" and they do. My father-in-law lives in Delta and when we go there to visit, I love to go to their downtown area with all the shops and walk around because Delta has TWO way traffic and parking on both sides of their main streets. It is very frustrating for example if I want to go to Radio Shack or Tranzformations or others to have to drive all the way around on the one-way coming from the west and try to remember the correct "turns" to get close to these and other businesses. Get rid of the one-ways and I would definitely shop and do more business in downtown Craig.

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David Moore 2 years, 2 months ago

Gotta agree with bkwranch, get rid of the one way streets, they have outlived their purpose. I remember as a kid growing up in central Craig when we had two way streets. They were changed because the thought was that Craig would grow significantly with the power plant construction and the mines expanding in the area. Well, Craig did grow, for awhile, but has not grown much since then. I have grown used to the one ways, and during parades enjoy going the wrong way down fourth when they divert traffic, a different sort of "change of pace", but, its time they go away. 50 % of the traffic bypasses downtown Craig by taking 4th street east, don't you think there would be more business in the central downtown if that 50% were going through it instead of around it? One way streets are for large metropolitan areas, not cowtowns.

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David Moore 2 years, 2 months ago

I am curious....does anyone know of another town the size of Craig that has the street system we have here? In my travels I have never seen anything like what we have.

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David Moore 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow, OK, after looking at Google Earth images I can see they have the same system, still doesn't make much sense. OK, that's one, any others?

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George Robertson 2 years, 2 months ago

Could the editorial board disband, and DO all of the things they are asking others to do instead of each week finding something else to gripe about?

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