Fountain pushing for a fresh look to boost business

By: matt steiner
September 4, 2013 Updated: September 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm
photo - An engraved stone is the focal point of the Fountain Valley Veterans Memorial that's on display outside Fountain City Hall. (The Gazette file)
An engraved stone is the focal point of the Fountain Valley Veterans Memorial that's on display outside Fountain City Hall. (The Gazette file)  

Downtown Fountain may be about to get a face-lift.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a contract to employ Ensign Engineering as consultants in what Fountain is calling its "Historic Olde Town Revitalization Project."

Fountain City Manager Scott Trainor said a group of 25 people including city officials, local businesspeople and "interested citizens" began meeting in May and have met five times. The revitalization committee gave rebirth to an effort that sprouted wings in 2007 but quickly took a nose dive as the economy tanked, he said.

"It came to a screeching halt, unfortunately," said Cheryl Branch, who owns an insurance agency on South Santa Fe Avenue and is a spokeswoman for the committee.

The town has rebuilt its city hall and recently added a fire station and school, making now a prime time to give the area along Santa Fe Avenue near Interstate 25 and on Main Street a fresh look, Branch said.

"Main streets are coming back," she said. "We think it's a perfect time to spruce things up and get some new business downtown."

Branch and Trainor said the revitalization project has multiple objectives.

Trainor said the plan is to attract Interstate 25 travelers to stop in the town of more than 26,000 people as they drive through, to recapture the hearts of Fountain residents to spend more time downtown and to "improve aesthetic appeal and improve the pride of the community."

"It's crucial to maintain and bring back what brought a lot of people to Fountain in the first place," Trainor said.

Fountain contracted Ensign Engineering for $32,000 to help plan the face-lift; $10,000 of that will come from the city's Economic Development Professional Services, and the rest will be paid through Fountain's Urban Renewal Authority, according to the minutes from Tuesday's council meeting.

Trainor said Ensign played a large role in the revamping of Manitou Springs' downtown area over the past few years. The town has had many of its buildings refurbished and improvements made to sidewalks and Manitou Avenue.

Branch and Trainor each insisted Fountain has a different identity from Manitou Springs and will tailor its new look after the town's military and rural farming history.

The project is in its infancy, and the committee will meet again in mid-September and is waiting to see what Ensign recommends before revitalization begins. Trainor said the local business community has taken the lead in the effort.

"This really needs to be a business-run project," he said. "This is a business issue, and they have a lot of passion and drive and the resources to do it."

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