Partnership’s study finds much to like in Fraser
There’s something about Fraser. Just look at its government – from stuffed penguins in every corner of town hall to the board room table with panther legs – it’s a funky place with tons of personality.At every town board meeting there’re cups full of Whoppers and M&Ms on the table, and as the meeting wears on, trustees scoop out large handfuls. The staff makes potluck dinners for the board before every meeting. And when it came, last week, to talking about an asphalt paving project in town, one of the trustees suggested – in all seriousness – that the board volunteer to help with the labor. There’s just something about Fraser. A group of downtown planners happens to agree. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Downtown Colorado Inc. teamed up last week to coordinate the Community Revitalization Partnership Program in Fraser. This intensive two-day program brought a team of nine multi-disciplinary specialists to town.They spent Tuesday exploring town and attending five community focus groups that included more than 60 residents, businesses, service providers, town staff, elected and appointed officials, and other community entities. For the town, this represented the first step toward downtown revitalization. At the end of the visit, the team prepared a public presentation that included an action plan and recommendations. Some 40 people plus staff attended that presentation Wednesday, Aug. 18. The Community Revitalization Partnership has run 39 of these programs to date, and it was mentioned several times that this was one of the best turnouts the program has seen. “Based on sheer numbers alone of people who attended the community focus groups, it is clear that people love this town,” said Katherine Correll of Downtown Colorado Inc.People said they love Fraser because it feels like home, because it’s rich in history and for its scenic beauty. But Fraser has a problem with identity and messaging, the presenters said. It too often flies under the wing of Winter Park and doesn’t receive its own publicity. “You defer to Winter Park for your marketing. You let them speak for you,” said Christian Brixey Cherek, Independent Marketing Consultant.The group recommended that Fraser step out on its own to market the town and its assets independently from Winter Park. “There is a story here that’s not being told,” said presenter Tracy Barnett, who runs the Main Street program in Steamboat Springs. She recommended that the town offer programming that highlights its history and heritage and that historic sites be linked in a walking tour or a campus-like setting.The group noted that the town is not pedestrian friendly, and suggested that town planners begin collaborating with CDOT to improve that situation. Another concern for the group was the lack of collaboration among entities. “There is too much duplication and an inefficient use of resources,” Barnett said, noting that in an area with 137 nonprofits, everyone is fighting for the same piece of the pie. “There needs to be better collaboration.” Another presenter recommended an annual summit to bring together all these nonprofit groups, to discuss plans for the upcoming year and to begin work together – sharing resources and funding on common goals. Simple recommendations about how to make the town more attractive included better lighting, more whiskey barrel planters around town, better signage and a clean-up initiative. Due to the death of Spencer Nelson – son of Fraser trustee Peggy Smith – just prior to the program, the community survey will be available online and at town hall for people to fill out. It is due back by the end of the day Wednesday, Aug 25. The questionnaire and full presentation are available at the town website: http://www.frasercolorado.com and the final report is due back in six to eight weeks. The key, now that the ball is rolling, Barnett said, is to keep the momentum going. “This town needs a champion,” she said.
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