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Facelift coming for downtown area

Preparing for what will hopefully be a busy summer season, the Town of Pagosa Springs will be giving a facelift to the area at the intersection of U.S. 160 and Hot Springs Boulevard, with minor flourishes being added throughout the rest of the downtown area.

On April 7, at the Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting, the Town Tourism Committee unveiled plans for the first of several projects included in their Wayfinding and Signage Project: A stone structure to be located on the southwest corner of the U.S. 160/Hot Springs Boulevard intersection (replacing the Visitor’s Center sign) which will include a sign directing visitors to destinations close to the downtown area.

In the works for almost two years, the TTC’s Wayfinding and Signage Project proposes to revamp the downtown experience as benches and lighting get replaced over the next few years, with signs placed throughout town.

Pending approval from CDOT, the sign that will be installed at the U.S. 160 and Hot Springs Boulevard intersection will be a stacked stone structure (a theme common to most proposed sign structures) with the sign attached on the street side. At a height of approximately 16 feet, the sign will certainly attract attention while providing visitors with a clearer view of directions to their destinations.

Also pending CDOT approval, a left-turn signal has been proposed in the westbound lane of U.S. 160 at the Hot Springs Boulevard intersection. Hoping to eliminate a common summertime problem — gridlock in the left westbound lane of U.S. 160 at that intersection — the light should be installed in time for the tourist season.

Likewise, the sign should be installed by mid-June.

Another sign (with the same stacked stone design) will be going in at the parking lot in the 400 block of Pagosa Street, directly adjacent to the mineral water display. Designed as a pedestrian directory, the sign would provide a comprehensive view of Pagosa area destinations as well as easy access to directions for visitors. Again, the sign should be installed by mid-June.

Preliminary estimates for the signs’ costs are just under $40,000, while a $16,000 price tag has been estimated for the turn signal.

Probably the most prominent change to the downtown area, however (also slated for mid-June), will be the replacement of the mural located in the 400 block of Pagosa Street and the rehabilitation of the pocket park that fronts it.

Currently, the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce is hoping to win a $50,000 grant from Pepsi in an online contest. Local residents are encouraged to visit www.refresheverything.com/visitpagosasprings to vote daily for the grant through April 30 (residents can also vote by visiting www.pagosasun.com and clicking the “Vote Now!” button on the right-hand side of the page). In order to secure the grant, the project must rank in the top 10 (as of press time, the project was ranked 44th).

Whether or not the project receives the Pepsi grant, it has been funded with a 50/50 split between the Town of Pagosa Springs and the Town Tourism Committee. At the April 7 town council meeting, the town board and the TTC board agreed to share funding with the understanding that, should the grant come through, both bodies would be reimbursed from the grant.

“I believe there’s ample funds to take it out of capital reserve funds,” said Town Manager David Mitchem, adding, “I think it’s a worthy expenditure and will bring good returns.”

Although the town had been asked to fully fund the project, council member Shari Pierce stated that she had spoken with TTC Coordinator Jennie Green and reached an agreement to split funding for the project.

Not merely replacing the mural, the project will include the installation of a wall that will use the same stacked stone construction to be provided for the signs installed this summer. Furthermore, the railroad ties in the current pocket park will be replaced with flat landscaping and the park will see the installation of three benches. Finally, the trees currently fronting the mural will be replaced, with tree wells and grates (as seen on Lewis Street) housing the new trees.

To complete the facelift, the town has approved renovations to Goodman’s Department Store and Eidelweiss Needlework Chalet — both located at the corner of 4th and Pagosa streets. Eidelweiss will take on a new coat of paint (along with other improvements) while Goodman’s will add new awnings as well as a new paint job.

Finally, the gateway signs on the east and west entrances to town will get a facelift with the addition of new landscaping and the installation of flagpoles (for hanging banners).

Eventually, however, the TTC has planned to replace the existing gateway signs with new structures that will use the same stacked stone construction which will characterize all new wayfinding and signage directional structures.

Hoping to secure grants for future projects, the TTC and its Wayfinding and Signage Subcommittee plan to replace many of the light fixtures in the downtown area, to achieve a uniformity in those fixtures. The same approach will be used in benches and trash receptacles throughout downtown.

Prior to the June projects, the town and the TTC will hang banners throughout the downtown area. Also, the town, TTC and Chamber of Commerce have expanded the flower basket program from previous years. The banners will be put up the first week in May with flower baskets going up later in the month.

“You’re very inspirational,” Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon said to Green, regarding the various projects she’d presented to council.

Welcoming what most residents hope will be a busy summer season, the town, TTC and Chamber are confident that, with the sprucing up of the downtown area, visitors and residents alike will take notice of a revamped downtown that has needed a facelift for quite some time.

jim@pagosasun.com