Rifle part of pilot sustainable-downtowns initiative

The state of Colorado has selected Rifle as one of four pilot communities that will participate in a new program aimed at benefiting downtowns.

Gov. Bill Ritter announced the city will join Fowler, Monte Vista and Denver’s Five Points neighborhood in kicking off the Sustainable Main Streets Initiative.

Its goal is to help communities overcome challenges such as vacant storefronts and aging buildings to achieve long-term downtown stability and prosperity.

Under the initiative, Ritter directed state agencies to target resources to support projects such as improving the energy efficiency of downtown areas, evaluating historic structures and outlining plans for their use, and increasing transportation choices for main streets and making them more pedestrian-friendly.

The Colorado Department of Local of Affairs will head up the effort, with assistance from the Governor’s Energy Office and state Transportation, Labor and Employment and other departments.

For Rifle, the main streets project aligns with its goal of diversifying an economy that is at the center of natural gas production in the state.

“We want to move forward so that our economy can sustain itself through fulfilling our vision as an energy village with a focus on bridging the gap from conventional fuels to renewables,” Rifle City Council member Jen Sanborn said in a news release from the state.

Ritter said in the news release that the initiative’s goal is to help communities “retain their history while also setting them on a new path toward a stronger, more stable and more vibrant future.”

The pilot program is designed to test the collaborative approach and learn practices that can be shared with communities statewide.

The pilot communities were selected because they represent a diverse mix of circumstances and urban and rural settings, and because “all have engaged the state on downtown revitalization efforts and have completed or undertaken sustainability planning for their communities,” according to initiative information on the governor’s office website.


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