City seeks input for Fruita downtown plan
Story and Photos By Debbie Roberts
Last Monday night, Fruita City Staff held a brief meeting to get input from residents and business owners about what they feel should or should not be included in the Fruita Downtown Plan.
The plan includes the downtown core, which is north of the railroad, west of Elm and Maple Streets, east of Little Salt Wash Park and South of Pabor St. The city is asking those who live, work and visit here to give their input on what they feel needs to be in Fruita, and even what Fruita might have too much of that we don’t need, so that the town can be a thriving one.
City of Fruita Community Development Director Dahna Raugh spoke to the group about what the goals of the downtown plan are, saying, “we’re trying to extend the flavor of the two blocks of downtown. It’s a unique portion of the city, which comes from its age. Because it was built before cars, it’s geared for pedestrians.”
City staff is looking at plans and projects that have been done in the past, and there were many maps and projections of what has been done and the possibilities of improvements for the future.
Raugh stated that after World War II, there was a decline downtown, and it wasn’t until 1990 that there was an effort made to develop a long-range plan for downtown. In 1996, the city bumped out street corners and added planters, put in stop lights, trees and parking spaces, and in years since has done various degrees of development to the downtown core.
“There’s certainly something missing,” Raugh said. As to why the city chose now to develop a long-term development plan, Raugh stated that it had been over 10 years since any kind of plan for downtown has been looked at, and with the economic changes, it’s time to re-evaluate the plan.
Raugh said that for the plan to be successful, there must be a combination of physical design, marketing and promotion of the downtown area. “There’s no one big thing that’s going to help revitalize it. It has to be a bunch of people and things to fix. It’s an incremental approach that won’t happen overnight,” she said.
The city has applied to be a part of the Colorado Main Street Program, which is a program designed to help cities revitalize their downtown areas based on unique architecture. Grand Junction was a part of the program and now has a more successful downtown area. “We need a reason to get people spending time downtown,” Raugh said.
If Fruita is accepted into the program, it will assist the city with the plan and design phase of improvements. While city staff don’t know at the moment whether they have been accepted or not, they say that they will follow the program’s plan even if they don’t get in.
The program follows for basic points for the improvements, all of which go hand-in-hand for success. They are design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring. All will help groups work together, create a positive image for the town, attract shoppers, investors and potential businesses, help existing businesses, and most of all help “brand” Fruita as what the community wants it to be.
This is where the city is hoping for a lot of community involvement in developing this long-term plan. City staff is currently in the research and analysis phase, and are looking for good and bad feedback from everyone. While the time frame for implementing any sort of plan is open for right now, there is no specific timeline, says the city. They want to make sure that they take the time to listen to all the feedback and suggestions that are coming in and develop a plan that really works and will be successful in the long run. The next meeting will be held in early summer, with a possible final plan meeting happening in August or September. Changes could start immediately after that but no final dates have been set, and much of the schedule depends on available funding.
To provide feedback to the city and have your suggestions heard, email firstname.lastname@example.org, stop in at the city offices at 325 E. Aspen Ave. or call (970) 858-0786.