Woodland Park took a pair of giant steps toward economic revitalization recently when the city council unanimously approved two programs aimed at revamping the downtown sector.
Council voted 7-0 to create a Creative Arts District and a Colorado Main Street Program. Both are state-administered designations that could bring recognition, money and visitors, councilman Gary Brovetto said.
"If we are designated, then my God, we're on the map," Brovetto said enthusiastically while explaining potential benefits of the programs that he says are designed to work hand-in-hand with the town's Downtown Development Authority.
Now that the city has given the nod to support the arts district and main street effort with money, administration and representation, both programs are headed to multi-tiered application processes with the state.
According to the Creative Arts District guidelines at coloradocreativeinustries.org, the Woodland Park Arts Alliance, which would manage the program, must submit an application by March 3.
"We will try to showcase our cultural and artistic organizations and events," said Roy Holloway, the director of the Arts Alliance and owner of Seven Arrows Gallery.
Fifteen districts can apply each year for the program that began in 2011. Up to seven will be selected by the end of March to become candidates.
"It's fairly new and it's getting to be very, very competitive," Holloway said.
The selected candidates will be subject to a two-year incubator program, in which Holloway said the district must show "how much energy and innovation we have infused and what we've done to enhance economic and civic capital," before becoming a designated district.
There are seven designated arts districts in Colorado, including the Pueblo Creative Corridor. Downtown Colorado Springs is in the incubator program along with six others. Colorado Springs submitted its application in 2012 and could earn full designation this year.
Holloway, Brovetto, other Woodland Park officials and Teller County representatives were in Denver on Wednesday for the Colorado Arts Advocacy Day. They met with Colorado Creative Industries and state legislators to advocate for the Woodland Park arts district.
The Main Street Progam application must be turned in to the Department of Local Affairs by July 1. If a town is chosen as a candidate, it has up to three years to meet certain criteria, including ongoing revitalization, training, an assessment and creation of an annual work plan. Once "basic infrastructure" is established to successfully run a Main Street Program, it is designated as such.
Thirteen Colorado communities have gained the designation. Victor is the only Colorado Main Street Community in the Pikes Peak region.
Brovetto said the plans by the Downtown Development Authority and the Woodland Park Arts Alliance, which will manage the programs, are not aimed at boosting the town's population.
"I don't want to see this place explode," Brovetto said. "We want to give residents a reason to come downtown and socialize. If we can bring our own people downtown, then everybody else will follow."
According to the resolutions passed by the council on Thursday, the Main Street and Creative Arts programs each promise to provide financial assistance such as grants, exposure to national and international media, and incentives to encourage businesses and visitors to come to the communities.
Brovetto and Holloway each said the No. 1 goal is to boost the economy in downtown Woodland Park. Brovetto said city officials have not begun to predict how much money the programs will bring to the town. He said that's what will be learned during the probationary periods.
Ridgway and Trinidad are the only towns in the state to have both Main Street and Creative Arts designations.