Downtown Rifle Main Street program to continue in 2014 |

Downtown Rifle Main Street program to continue in 2014

A downtown promotion program that began this year will continue in 2014, with the City of Rifle, Downtown Development Authority and Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. involved.

The three entities agreed at a Wednesday, Dec., 11, workshop to work out the details of the Main Street Rifle program and coordinator position, which had been held by Dana Ingram most of the year but is currently vacant.

City Manager Matt Sturgeon said the Colorado Department of Local Affairs wants a full-time coordinator position so the program can run full-time. The department manages the Colorado Main Street program, which is funded by a grant from the State Historical Fund.

Economic development group President Michael Langhorne said the department allowed Ingram to work part-time for the Main Street program and part-time for the economic development group. City funds were used to pay Ingram for the Main Street portion of her duties, Langhorne explained. Now, Rifle’s population may reach the level where the department will no longer allow such a split arrangement, he said.

DDA Board President Jay Rickstrew and longtime board member Tom Stuver both noted that while there was some overlap between the Main Street efforts and the downtown group, they wanted to see the program continue and grow.

“We flirted with the Main Street program many years ago,” Stuver said. “The cost factor of having a full-time person was always a road block, and we didn’t see the value of that, since we were already doing much of what the program called for.”

Stuver noted a full-time Main Street program could make Rifle more attractive for grants to help fund downtown improvement projects.

City Planning Director Nathan Lindquist said Ingram and the local Main Street committee, which includes downtown businesses, developed projects such as the monthly First Fridays program, the improvements to the vacant lot at Railroad Avenue and West Second Street, getting a mural created and installed on the side of the underground parking garage and another mural created by Rifle Middle School students.

Lindquist said the program committee has discussed working with the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce on its annual chilli cook-off and combining the city’s Fall Festival with a First Friday promotion.

Sturgeon noted the city included the same amount for the Main Street program – $24,000 – in its 2014 budget as it had in this year’s budget.

Stuver said how to determine the duties of the Main Street coordinator and that of DDA Director Helen Rogers, who is also part-time, will be a key issue.

“We don’t want two people doing two part-time jobs,” he said.

Downtown merchant Gary Miller, owner of Miller’s Dry Goods, was enthusiastic about the Main Street program.

“From the day Dana stepped on board, this program has been good,” Miller said. “I don’t think the downtown has been promoted this well in many, many years. I’m encouraged it didn’t die when Dana left.”

Mayor Randy Winkler said the three entities will work out the details and talk to the Department of Local Affairs to see the program and position continue in the new year.

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