SILT — When Christian Harra opened the Miner’s Claim restaurant in Silt in 1997, the downtown wasn’t much to look at.
But thanks to $1 million in grant money from an intergovernmental agreement with Garfield County, $338,000 from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Leasing District and $145,000 in matching money from the town, a three-phase downtown renovation projection is nearly done.
“We’re coming close to completing the project on the north side of Main Street,” said Mayor Rick Aluise. “We’ve had it planned for a couple of years and we started construction late last year.”
Construction ceased over the winter but moved ahead quickly with warmer weather.
“We’ve finished the construction with wider sidewalks, crosswalks and new pavement,” said Public Works Director Gerry Pace. “This week we’re planting trees and then we’re going to put benches at each intersection and four flower pots. By the end of July, it should all be completed.”
The beautification project extends from Eighth Street to Third Street. While the construction noise has affected some businesses, Pace said everyone, for the most part, has been very understanding.
“The citizens and business owners have been tremendous,” Pace said. “We’ve had a few complaints, but we would like to give a big thank you, to the community for being inconvenienced.”
Watching the downtown being improved prompted some business owners to make improvements to their own properties.
Harra recently constructed a covered outdoor deck with an open, octagon-shaped gas fire pit on the front of his building at Seventh and Main Street. He put in custom-made log benches and tables and potted aspen trees with colored LED lights.
“People love it,” he said. “And it’s really neat at night when the LED lights are going.”
Outside, Harra has a new metal sign on the east side fence along the building, along with an old boiler he’s been keeping and an authentic chair from an Aspen ski lift.
The Miner’s Claim has always drawn people from around the valley with its high-end, eclectic menu and atmosphere. Harra said with the town’s renovation project, he decided to do something with the remaining portion of his property.
“The town was awarded a grant and utilized it for downtown renovations,” Harra said. “I’ve been here since 1997 and I’ve watched this town change. I knew I had to do something, too.”
Harra said he’s heard of several other businesses in town that are making changes and the improvements are not going unnoticed.
“We’re starting to see lots of Realtors poking their noses around,” Harra said.
Residents are optimistic that the improvements will make people want to live and open businesses in Silt.
“We’re trying to make our downtown more attractive to citizens and potential new business,” said Town Administrator Pamela Woods. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people walking around who say it’s so pretty and they can’t wait for it to be completed.”
Woods also pointed out that Pace was able to keep the entire project at or below budget.
As for Harra, the construction phase might have been a little bit of an inconvenience for his business and his customers, but it was worth it in the end.
“But now look at it,” he said with a smile as he looked down the street. “In order to get something, you’ve got to give something.”