Editorial: Downtown needs vision | CraigDailyPress.com

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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.

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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