Rifle’s Main Street Initiative projects list down to seven | PostIndependent.com

Rifle’s Main Street Initiative projects list down to seven

Heidi Rice
Rifle Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – The city of Rifle has whittled a list of 17 possible projects for the statewide “Sustainable Main Street Initiative” program down to seven, after meeting last week with Gov. Bill Ritter and the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to discuss ideas.

Some of the projects Rifle is looking at include rehabilitation of the old Ute Theatre (Rifle Creek Theater); a public relations campaign to come up with a brand for Rifle; the Rifle Gateway Project; making it a more bicycle-friendly city; a business incubator that would allow start-up businesses to get shared services to get on their feet; a revolving loan fund for downtown facade improvements; and IT broadband service to improve community access to the Internet.

“We still haven’t officially established the projects we’re dealing with, but we will be sending a team to Denver for a workshop on May 19,” said Mike Braaten, government affairs coordinator for the city of Rifle. “There will be representatives from DOLA, the office of emergency management and the office of economic development.”

The goal of the Sustainable Main Street Initiative program is to seek solutions to strengthen Colorado communities in partnership with state and federal agencies. The city of Rifle was one of four municipalities chosen in the state to participate in the pilot program, along with the Five Points neighborhood in East Denver, the town of Fowler and the city of Monte Vista. One of the criteria for being selected was having completed or undertaken sustainability planning for their communities.

DOLA is heading up the venture, which is modeled after a program that has been in place in Oregon for the past 15 years.

“The governor signed the order [for the program] and we will have a training session on May 19 where we’ll learn about what has been worked on in other communities,” Braaten said.

Michael Langhorne of Bookcliff Survey Services in Rifle, who is also heavily involved in the chamber and other community organizations, was named as the spokesperson – or “local champion,” as the program calls it – to be the contact person representing the city.

The program has suggested improvements municipalities can make, including increasing a community’s access to Colorado-grown food projects; improving the energy efficiency of the community and use of renewables in the downtown area; reducing the number of vacant storefronts in the downtown area; increasing the preservation of historic structures in the community; improving the pedestrian friendliness of Main Street and increasing transportation choices; and an increase of the volunteer opportunities in the community.

The state will provide technical assistance to Rifle to help implement its goals, but just being part of the program could also be beneficial to the city when applying for funding assistance from the state in the future, according to Braaten.

The city of Rifle will participate in a workshop meeting in Denver today to further discuss the program. The next public meeting of the “Sustainable Main Street Initiative” will he held on Wednesday, June 9.

For more information about the Main Street program, contact Mike Braaten at 625-6267.

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