Winter Park begins planning for future of downtown
When the town of Winter Park asked residents how they envisioned the town 10 years from now, they had a lot to say about downtown and identified several strategies for the area’s next steps.
Now the town is taking that feedback and creating a specific Downtown Plan based on the larger goals and principles in the Imagine Winter Park strategic plan that will guide future actions and developments in the area.
“We heard loud and clear during the Imagine Winter Park plan that this is something that we needed to address immediately,” said James Shockey, community development director for Winter Park.
Winter Park has partnered with Denver-based Design Workshop to create the plan and the town is putting together a steering committee of seven to 10 residents that will help guide the plan throughout the process.
Town planner Mara Owen said they are going through the steering committee applications now and are hoping to have community members from a variety of backgrounds contribute.
“We want to make sure we have as diverse of input as we can,” Owen said. “We want to make sure we have business owners and community members and everyone in between.”
The Downtown Plan will likely include an assessment of existing conditions and needs, regulations, policies and design guidelines for development, actionable next steps and an implementation timeline.
Owen added that the plan will also provide guidance for future changes or projects.
“I think it will anticipate how the downtown might change,” she said. “Something large, like a gondola or something else that might be a larger (feature), we’d want to know how that would work.”
One big aspect of the downtown plan will be a transformation of the portion of Highway 40 that runs through Winter Park. Both the town and its residents have expressed a desire to make the street more accessible, welcoming and safe.
Winter Park is working closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation for any improvements or changes, Shockey said.
“We also talked about the physical form that Highway 40 takes through the downtown right now and how we can transform that from more of a highway into more of a main street feel,” he said. “Where Imagine Winter Park didn’t get a lot of specifics, this Downtown Plan will.”
Since the Downtown Plan will ultimately be a guiding document for more than just the town, Owen emphasized the importance of including community members in the process, including for the Main Street updates.
She said the hope is to be able to test any changes before they are implemented and gather feedback so that the town and residents are on the same page.
“I don’t think we want to tell the community what they want,” Owen said.
The town will also include other opportunities for community members to submit feedback, including surveying people at the summer concert series held at Hideaway Park.
Thanks to a $25,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant to help fund the creation of the Downtown Plan, the idea is to start the process in May and have a final draft by the end of the year.
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