Fruita panel will push downtown redevelopment

One of the most important ideas raised by consultants at a meeting last month about revitalizing downtown Fruita was to designate a “champion” for the effort.

Presumably, the new Downtown Advisory Board — approved via City Council resolution this week and now actively soliciting community members to join — will fill that critical role.

“This group is intended to work with business owners, property owners and the community to help develop plans and address issues related to downtown,” said Dahna Raugh, Fruita’s community development director.

“We hope it will be a continuing force to reach the City Council’s goal, which is to achieve the full potential of a strong downtown,” she said.

The council is fielding applications for approximately 12 community members to serve on the board, and the expectation is that it’ll be accepting people across a broad range of backgrounds and ideas.

The push to revitalize downtown is connected to Fruita recently becoming a candidate city in the Colorado Main Street Program, and the two-day visit and analysis last month from a nonprofit consultant group was an initial step in the process.

That group will be filing a detailed report of their findings within weeks, along with an extensive list of specific recommendations to boost Fruita’s downtown in terms of design, promotion, economic development and other areas.

The group’s report will give the new Downtown Advisory Board a great place to begin its work.

“Before (the board has) a second meeting, we’ll probably have that report in our hands and there will be lots of stuff for them to consider,” Raugh said.

The advisory board is tasked with crafting its own plan and presenting its ideas to the council and the community within a year.

The city will play a supporting role for the new group — including providing a city staff member to the board and offering other staff as resources — but the long-term idea is to have the board become an independent organization, separate and distinct from the city, unlike other Fruita boards and commissions.

First, though, the council needs people to apply for the positions on the board. City staff will be reaching out to people who have participated in the downtown revitalization process so far, but anyone with interest can download an application from the city’s website at http://www.fruita.org.

Living outside Fruita city limits does not preclude people from applying for seats on the board.

“If you want to be on the board, submit an application as soon as you possibly can, because they are going to be making a decision pretty darn quick,” Raugh said.


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