On the evening of Monday, February 24th, a crowd of residents gathered in the cafeteria of Wellington’s acclaimed middle school to discuss their vision for the future of the community and the downtown core along Cleveland Avenue. Consultants on DCI’s technical assistance team began by asking questions—“What do you love about this community? What would you change about downtown? Do you feel connected as a community?” The meeting reignited a dialogue about what it means to be a citizen and the importance of shaping the future. As one DCI team member said, “The future will come, and this community will grow, no matter what you do. The question is, how will you shape that growth? How will you make this a community you love?”
It was the fifth such meeting conducted by Downtown Colorado, Inc. that day, during a two-day technical assistance visit to the Northern Colorado town of Wellington. Focus groups were held with the town’s elected officials; nonprofit, service and religious organizations; school administrators, teachers, students and parents; business owners; and residents. From the farmers and ranchers born in the town of Wellington 60 years ago to the young families who came during the residential boom of the last 10 years, the community rallied around the importance of shaping a vibrant downtown district.
Wellington’s Downtown Revitalization Committee, chamber of commerce and municipal leadership brought DCI’s team as a catalyst for downtown investment and reinvigoration. The DCI technical assistance team, led by DCI executive director Katherine Correll, included a community revitalization specialist from the Department of Local Affairs and consultants working in economic development, finance, planning, landscape architecture, urban design and marketing.
On the second evening the team unveiled their observations and recommendations in a public presentation attended by more than 50 community members. The community embraced the vision for increased communication and collaboration between stakeholders, stronger support for local business and a more beautiful, pedestrian-friendly downtown with the infrastructure for businesses to succeed.
Additional recommendations included fixing the storm water system, embarking on small scale beautification projects, increasing pedestrian and bicycle access downtown, increasing support for local businesses and creating an outreach package with real estate and other information for potential new businesses.
DCI provides low-cost technical assistance to communities of all sizes throughout Colorado. DCI has conducted more than 60 such assessments, in partnership with the Department of Local Affairs, USDA, OEDIT, and the help of leading professionals who volunteer as team members. If you’re community is interested or would like more information, please visit Technical Assistance (where an application is available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jamie Shapiro is a VISTA volunteer for Downtown Colorado, Inc. and has participated in 5 technical assistance visits with Colorado communities since joining our organization in mid-2013. He says his favorite part of these visits is seeing the energy and excitement of the community members as they come together to shape their community’s future.