Angie Cue, Lamar’s Community Development Manager since January, provided an update on her department during the Lamar Rotary’s Thursday afternoon meeting, March 3rd. Cue, a former Lamar native, is also the executive director of the Lamar Partnership Incorporated organization, and has been familiarizing herself with both departments since her return.
“The LPI was created several years ago to help develop the city’s Main Street Program. Lamar is one of 18 communities in Colorado with this designation and is administered in part by the Department of Local Affairs, which can provide funding for various municipal projects,” she explained. Cue said the basic mission of the LPI and its 12 member board, is to rebuild the central business district of Lamar. “We want as many businesses as possible to become involved in the Partnership program,” she told the gathering, adding that the organization wants to create a network for future information and idea sharing which can help boost the local economy. The Partnership follows a four part outline as a Colorado Main Street community: Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restructuring.
“We are active with other groups and organizations in Lamar, ranging from the Chamber with the approaching high school rodeo this summer, to new facades for buildings with SECED loans and becoming involved with seasonal events,” Cue said. The Colorado Main Street Community focuses on Historic Preservation and, “We are working to become a ‘Certified Local Government’,” she added, which will open avenues to other, new grants for homes and businesses to qualify for an historical designation. “Lamar was designated Colorado’s Main Street City of the Year in 2014 and we want to achieve that level of performance and recognition in a future year,” she explained.
One goal is to maintain an attractive downtown shopping area. “We offer flower planters and benches and we’re planning streetscaping improvements in conjunction with the CDOT Main Street Renovation Project,” she stated. Cue said the City of Lamar is active in helping eliminate blight in various neighborhoods through their house demolition project, “So far this year, the city has taken down 12 houses and three trailers from our neighborhoods and 24 houses have been removed in the past full year. The city will hold its annual spring clean-up day for Lamar on Saturday, April 30th.” She added that the banners that are set along the light poles along Main Street are due for replacement as the current ones have been beaten up by the weather for the past several years.
“We are going to focus on streetscaping in 2016. We have some initial plans, but we’re going to hold an open community forum to get some ideas from the local merchants and residents on what we can achieve,” Cue explained. She said the LPI board is forming a ‘façade squad’ which will go door to door along Main Street and talk to business owners about what can be done to improve their storefronts, whether it’s a deep cleaning or new paint on a door or exterior walls.
Another focal point is the Pocket Park between the Shore Arts Center and Daylight Donut. The city recently was awarded a $75,000 matching grant from DOLA and she expects to see some construction work begin by the end of summer. “We also have plans for lighting up the rear parking lot and alleyways behind the businesses and improve the look between the park and the Chamber of Commerce,” she said.
Lamar should see some construction activity later this summer at Willow Creek Park on the planed skateboard park. Other developments Cue mentioned stated that preliminary work on the 9 mile Lamar Loop should begin by this fall and there is a possibility that the Pedal the Plains bicycle event, which traveled through Lamar in 2014, may return to an area of southeast Colorado. “There’s no guarantee that Lamar will be a return host for the three-cities, three-day bike event, but we’ll keep the community posted on developments,” she told the Rotary gathering.
By Russ Baldwin
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