Palisade gets ready to grow - city services, business, fruit and veggies
The town of Palisade is a curious mixture of old-timers whose families have lived and worked in the area for generations and newcomers who love the area, love the small, farm-town feel to the area, but have to make a living. The area also depends on visitors, who come to buy fruit, wine, art or simply take in one of the many festivals held throughout the summer.
“I love being in Palisade, the response has been incredible,” said Kim Henderson, who recently opened Lupita’s Bizarre Bazaar on the southeast corner of Third and Main Streets in downtown Palisade. The store is at the site of the old Palisades National Bank, which still had the original vault. Henderson uses the vault area for displaying rugs and other whimsical items.
In addition to rugs, Henderson carries a selection of gifts, cards, kids’ books and toys, pottery and other art. She hasn’t had a grand opening at the store yet, but has been open since April 6.
The Blue Pig Gallery, which moved two doors down the street last fall, is enjoying its prominent place across the street, on the southwest side of Third and Main.
“The building has so much character,” said Kay Crane, gallery director. “Our customers love it, too. They comment on the building as much as the art.”
The new, larger location enabled the gallery to expand the gift shop side of the gallery, aka the Piglet, and expand the jewelry collection. Several new artists have joined since the move.
“There’s a greater variety than what was seen before when it was just the Blue Pig,” Crane said.
The Palisade Cafe and Grill, which has been a mainstay on Main Street for 75 years, is getting ready for the busy season under new owners, Tom and Kris Pike, who opened the grill on Jan. 6. The Pikes developed a new menu for the restaurant that returns to the restaurant’s roots.
“It’s been a cafe for 75 years,” Tom said. “People wanted a return to home cooking and less expensive items on the menu.”
The Pikes appreciate the locals, who have supported and dined at the cafe all winter. They were able to hire back all the employees who wanted to work at the restaurant and plan on hiring additional employees for the busier summer tourist season.
“Once summer gets here, we’ll use fresh ingredients and more local veggies,” Kris said. The restaurant buys tortillas and chips from local producer, La Milpa, and also buys skirt steak from Carniceria Sonora, a local specialty meat market that has locations in Clifton, Fruita and on North Avenue.
The Palisade Cafe and Grill hopes to be able to support another local start-up business, Sprigs and Sprouts, a small truck farm where owners Ruth Elkins and Linda Bailey have also opened a gift shop and are growing lavender.
“We’re trying to maximize every square inch of this lot,” said Elkins. The business partners purchased the two- and-a-half-acre site at 3669 G Road in September 2010. Last season, they planted the first lavender field and their first vegetable crop, which they sold to consumers and local restaurants like the Palisade Cafe and Grill.
The gift shop portion of the business will have a grand opening on May 12, but the women are always on site working and are happy to visit with customers before the big opening weekend.
The Town of Palisade is also getting ready for a busy summer season, and also plans to start construction of a new fire station this month.
“The design is done, the bids are done,” said Richard Sales, town administrator. The fire station will be at the civic center, 711 Iowa Ave., the site of the old Palisade High School. The town has already revamped and opened the large community gym and recreation facility at the site.
“The citizens agreed to let us sell the existing town hall,” Sales said, which paves the way for both the police and fire departments to have a new home at the Civic Center.
The town also hopes to do bank restoration at Riverbend Park, where floods eroded the riverbanks last spring in the high runoff. The town has been waiting for permits before construction can start on the restoration project. The town is also waiting for the correct permits to begin a sewer diffuser project, which will enable the town to continue using its current sewer system at a cost of $1.2 million to perform necessary upgrades, rather than $9 million to connect to the Clifton sewer system.
The town is not waiting on anything to kick off the festival season, however, and has already welcomed the Honeybee Festival, which took place in April and is getting ready to host the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival and the Palisade Classic Bike Festival, both of which are scheduled in June.
“I hope people are going to come, we’re getting hot talent at the Palisade bluegrass festival,” Sales said.
As an incentive to encourage locals to come to the music festival, the Town of Palisade is offering discounted tickets to Mesa County residents. To get the discount, residents must purchase tickets at the town hall or over the phone.
“We want more local folks to come and party with us,” Sales said.
Customers from the Front Range, as well as more distant areas like Alaska and Canada, have already purchased tickets, Sales said. Camping is available for those who want to stay for the entire festival.
A few people who attend festivals or visit the area from out of town enjoy their stay so much that they end up buying a home in the area, which is good news to Mecshelle Etzkorn and Tammy Craig with Fruit and Wine Realty, 144 Kluge Ave., in Palisade.
“From now to September, we’ll have inquiries and quite a few that actually want to buy, especially in East Orchard Mesa,” said Etzkorn.
The Palisade real estate market never experienced a big building boom like in other parts of the valley and hasn’t seen a large number of foreclosures. Prices have dropped, however, and are at 2005 levels, according to Craig.
“Prices were quite high, to the point where if someone wanted to purchase land for a farming operation, it didn’t make sense,” Craig said. “Now prices are down low enough to make farming attractive again.”
Farms, orchards and other Palisade acreage properties are selling again, which is welcome news to Palisade Realtors. Craig has seen multiple offers on some properties and potential buyers who are willing to write backup offers.
It’s shaping up to be a good season out in Palisade.