Businesses taking role in Fruita revitalization
Seeing that Fruita’s new Downtown Advisory Board has the broad mission of revitalizing the downtown core in a host of areas, it’s not surprising that the makeup of the board itself is distinctly diverse as well.
A number of people on the newly appointed 12-member group own businesses in the downtown core, which will be central to any revitalization effort in the city.
Camilla Nilsson-Smith, who has owned Camilla’s Cafe downtown for four years, said her small-business perspective is rooted in many of the things she and her husband have heard from customers at the restaurant.
“We have a good business going downtown, and I feel like we have a lot of insight to what could be done better here,” she said.
Brian Gregor was a police officer in Grand Junction and Vail before becoming co-owner of Kettles Home Brewing Supply and Copper Club Brewing Co. on Aspen Avenue downtown.
“I think the biggest thing I’d like to do is see what the residents want, what they are envisioning,” Gregor said. “It’s just sort of taking what’s already existing and maybe just tweak it, so that residents can come to Fruita downtown and hang out down here.”
Linda Kurtz bought a building downtown three years ago and now operates Rose Hue cooperative art gallery and a separate nonprofit business there.
“I am very interested in seeing new business come in to Fruita,” she said, further predicting that she would bring a promotional focus to the advisory board.
Many of the new members said it was too early to talk about specific projects or ideas because the board was appointed just last week.
But Rob Breeden, who’s been a landscape architect for 12 years, thinks an emphasis on urban design and planning could be something the board considers.
“I’d like to see us focus on integrating a common design theme for the whole downtown that brings everything together, that unifies it,” Breeden said.
A husband and wife team also will serve on the board — and share their single vote. Laci Mease will split a seat with her husband, Jesse.
She is a fifth-generation local, and relatives on both sides of her family homesteaded in the area. She thinks her and her husband’s input could bring a historical bent to board discussions.
“Basically, we want to make sure that Fruita keeps the Fruita feel that we grew up with, that we’ve always known,” she said.
Still another section of the board is focusing first on new activities for downtown and hoping to make cultural strides.
Wynne Bouley has a background in education and volunteer work and thinks kids are an untapped resource, along with their parents.
“I think it’s an inter-generational thing. People of all ages can put something together in Fruita so that there are activities and life downtown,” she said.
The connections to the cultural community are evident on the new board, especially with the unique Cavalcade arts and music space downtown. City Councilman Cullen Purser is the council’s liaison to the downtown group, and Jeannine Purser and Ken Kreie will sit on the new board. All three are driving forces in Cavalcade.
“If you go downtown after 8 o’clock — any day except for Friday or Saturday — there’s nothing going on,” Kreie said. He’s hoping the group “makes our downtown a place where people are doing things.”
Gennaro Connors, who works at Over the Edge Sports, also hopes to draw more folks downtown.
“I think one of the things I bring is that I’ve lived all over the world,” he said. “I’ve gone to places where everyone comes into town and gathers, and I want (Fruita) to be more of a community.”
The other members appointed to the group are Gail Corbett, Shauna Davies and Veronica Daehn Harvey.
The group will report to the City Council. It’s charged with addressing issues like parking, lighting, landscaping, retail diversity, pedestrian needs, design standards, zoning and traffic, among other aspects of the downtown area.