Only bound by geography |

Only bound by geography

Kremmling as seen from the cliffs north of town on Wednesday, April 30.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

KREMMLING — The Town of Kremmling is looking for ways to expand and attract businesses and residents despite geographical constrictions, town leaders said Thursday.

The local government and chamber of commerce have formed three groups – design, promotions and economic development – to find ways to attract businesses and potential residents to the community.

“Were pretty much open to everything from retail to manufacturing,” said Kremmling Town Mayor Tom Clark. “We’re not a resort town. We’re more of a livable community.”

This campaign to revamp Kremmling is all part of its 2014 Comprehensive Plan, a personalized approach to improving the town based on a downtown assessment that Downtown Colorado, Inc. completed in 2013.

“Untapped. Untamed­ — ‘Untapped’ because there’s a lot of little secrets around Kremmling that no one knows about and ‘untamed’ because we’ve kind of kept that western flair more than other communities. Not because were brawlers.”
Kremmling Town Manager Mark Campbell

The goals set forth in the plan have anywhere from a one to ten year timeframe for completion, but right now, the town is focusing on attracting businesses.

The problem for Kremmling isn’t lack of infrastructure or workforce to supplement these businesses. The recently upgraded water system can support 5,000 residents, Clark said, which is much more than the estimated 1,450 that currently live there. The issue is that Kremmling doesn’t have much room to grow.

The town’s southern border is hemmed in by a flood plain that drops into the Colorado River. The Muddy River’s flood plain borders Kremmling to the west and north.

Given the high possibility of flooding during the spring snowmelt, Town Manager Mark Campbell said riverside expansion isn’t an option.

The Bureau of Land Management owns all the land beyond the Muddy River, above the Kremmling cliffs.

“We would have to buy land somewhere and swap it with them, so we only really have expansion at the north and the northeast area,” Campbell said.

Because of these geographic limits, Campbell said the town is focusing inward on improving the heart of Kremmling.

“We’re trying to fill up the empty spaces,” he said.

So far, the town has been fairly successful.

In the last year, Kremmling has attracted around seven new businesses, including a real estate company, a liquor store, an ice cream parlor and an art cooperative that will open on Monday, Campbell said.

Though the U.S. Census Bureau estimated a slight drop in population over the two years, sales tax revenues, though below pre-recession levels, have increased dramatically since 2011.

Data is still being compiled for 2013, and Campbell said it could prove to be a “record year.”

“It’s the most positive I’ve seen it for the 20 years I’ve been here,” Clark said.

The town is also in talks with Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade to see what types of business and industry could potentially call Kremmling home.

Youth focus in rebranding

The town is also focusing on reinventing itself visually, and it’s doing so with the help of its younger residents.

During the town’s rebranding campaign last year, the design group consulted a focus group of young adults from Kremmling regarding rebranding and beautification of the town.

“I have an old (American Indian) philosophy that I live by,” Clark said. “We don’t inherit this earth from our forefathers, we borrow it from our children.”

Chamber of Commerce President Vic Caylor echoed Clark’s focus on youth engagement, but said his focus is on providing opportunities for younger citizens who may be tempted to leave to make a living elsewhere.

“Its an issue that all small communities wrestle with,” Caylor said. “You have families that live here. The kids grow up and they move away. There’s not opportunities for them so therefore you want to attract businesses to your town so that there are opportunities for young people.”

For Caylor, that means attracting businesses like a bowling alley, which would provide an activity for younger residents to enjoy.

Campbell mentioned functional improvements to make the town more resident-friendly.

One possibility is thinning the seven-lane road that runs through the center of Kremmling, which Campbell referred to as the “Kremmling speedway.”

Campbell also said a developer was considering building 10 to 20 homes in the north part of Kremmling, which is good for a population that Clark projects to increase.

The town has even adopted a new slogan, “Untapped. Untamed.”

“‘Untapped’ because there’s a lot of little secrets around Kremmling that no one knows about and ‘untamed’ because we’ve kind of kept that western flair more than other communities,” Campbell said. “Not because were brawlers.”

Reporter Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

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