15 businesses win beautification grants

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Fifteen Woodland Park businesses will receive beautification grants from a fund set up by the Downtown Development Authority with the help of the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co.

Authority executive director Beth Kosley read the list of names at the authority’s May 19 regular meeting.

With one exception, Gold Hill Java, all the businesses are located in the city’s old downtown. The projects include painting at Flutterbys & Party Bugs, awnings at Seven Arrows Gallery, facade upgrades at half a dozen businesses, a sign for a new tenant in the Curves for Women building, rear entrance work at a few businesses, a small landscaping project at Williams Brothers Furniture and some all-around-the-building work at Cowbells and The Cowhand.

These businesses and those that take advantage of low-interest beautification loans offered by Park State Bank & Trust will be participating in what is now called The Mainstreet Makeover. Most of the work is scheduled to be completed in June.

Eight flower urns are on order for the city’s downtown. These will be mingled among hanging flower baskets.

Downtown businesses have signed off on a project to add decorative safety rails in strategic places in the U.S. 24 - Midland corridor but a new snag has developed — the city needs project approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“We didn’t think we needed to involve CDOT but it turns out we do,” said authority projects manager Bob Harvey. “We hope to have the approval by mid-June and have the rails installed by late June.”

Work has begun on the performance pavilion on the green between the Ute Pass Cultural Center and the Woodland Park Public Library.

Sod has been removed to be reused in city parks where winter kill has left some bare spots, Harvey said. Most of the work on the pavilion is being done by volunteers but there are a few things that couldn’t be obtained through donors. For these the project has received a $2,500 grant from the Mountain Arts Council. Harvey is seek a couple of other small grants to be used for the same purpose.

Harvey announced preliminary findings from a vacant space survey the authority has been conducting.

“Vacant retail space isn’t has high as we thought it was,” he said. “Only about 11.3 percent of retail square footage in the city is vacant. The real problem is going to be with vacant office space. That’s going to be a lot higher.”

By a count of actual spaces, not square footage, about 25 percent of city retail space is vacant. Most of these spaces are small, he said.

Kosley said the size of retail spaces available — most of them under 3,000 square feet — is one factor in a project she was working on to help four businesses expand in Woodland Park.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t successful,” she said. “All four of them are locating in Colorado Springs. Space size was only part of the decision. Colorado Springs has a glut of available space. The reverse commute also was a factor.”

Brooke Smith said the Mountain Arts money was left over from a Dickson Performing Arts fund that was set aside for the future needs of the cultural center.

“We gave the leftover money to the MAC for distribution,” Smith said.

“We are about a week behind schedule but our contractors say we can catch that up with efficient work planning,” Harvey said, adding that the project is still on track for a late June opening.

City planning director Sally Riley said there are 45 applicants for positions on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the comprehensive plan revision that was launched earlier this month. She encouraged city residents to visit www.wpcompplan.org and fill out a detailed survey.

“It will take about 15 minutes,” she said. “We want all adults in each household to fill it out.”

Questions include everything from “How long have you lived in Woodland Park?” to “When friends or family visit, what three things are you likely to show them in Woodland Park?” to “When you shop outside of Woodland Park, what are the main reasons for doing so?” There are 57 questions. Space for additional comments is survey item No. 58.

Greater Woodland Park Chamber President Debbie Miller said reusable shopping bags made with recycled materials and imprinted with a Woodland Park theme should be ready for distribution by July 4.

“We’ll make the bags available at the farmers market this summer,” she said.

The Woodland Park Farmers Market will open June 12.