Hayden Marketplace artist Dana Haskins spruces up her bear fat soap display Thursday afternoon. The Marketplace is in downtown Hayden on Walnut Street. Town officials view the area as an asset to the town and want to revitalize it.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Hayden Marketplace artist Dana Haskins spruces up her bear fat soap display Thursday afternoon. The Marketplace is in downtown Hayden on Walnut Street. Town officials view the area as an asset to the town and want to revitalize it.

Experts to guide community discussion to revitalize Hayden

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— In Tammie Delaney's opinion, the town of Hayden could go in two directions: It could preserve its heritage, or it could lose its soul.

Delaney is a member of the Hayden Economic Development Commission and will participate in a two-day discussion of the town's future. Department of Local Affairs representatives, residents, business owners and experts will sit down at the table Monday and Tuesday.

Her assessment, Delaney admits, is blunt.

"I think so many communities have gone the way of chain stores, big stores, big boxes : and I think that loses the whole character of the community," she said.

Hayden still has its character, Delaney said. That puts the town in a strong position to revitalize its downtown without selling out.

"Once they've lost that authenticity of historic areas and historic districts, you can never rebuild it," she said.

Delaney's concerns and desires will be only part of the discussion. The town welcomes every resident and business owner to weigh in, Town Manager Russ Martin said. The DOLA representatives and other experts will facilitate the conversation and will present an assessment at a community potluck dinner at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the new Community Center at the Haven.

Martin said part of his goal would be to figure out what residents and businesses want to see downtown.

"I think it's the next level of building a progressive community," he said about the community revitalization partnership discussion.

DOLA is funding $3,000 of the project. The town is paying the other $3,000 through the Economic Development Commission's budget. The Hayden Chamber of Commerce also is a sponsor.

Martin encouraged anyone interested to attend. The visiting panel will meet with the Town Board of Trustees, town staff members, community and civic groups and others Monday and Tuesday. A schedule is available at Town Hall or by calling 276-3741.

"We need people here to give us some idea of what we can do to help ourselves," Martin said.

Town Trustee Bill Hayden plans to participate in the talks. He also owns a business, the Hayden Mercantile.

"I hope we get positive comments so what happens is, we can revitalize our downtown area to make it more vibrant and interesting to customers in Hayden and the three surrounding communities that come here for business and the fair," Hayden said.

The economic development group has started planning incentives for businesses to move to or expand in Hayden. Delaney said the time was right to draw people in. She looks at downtown, particularly the Walnut Street area, as an asset.

"We need to figure out ways to make it the ideal environment for those that can't afford the pricing to get their foot in the door in Steamboat," she said.

"To me, Craig has taken a path of really encouraging large-scale retail. We've created a niche in Hayden for people who want to start businesses to really come in, and to me that's a lot of what it's about here."

Martin said he would like to see a group that could focus on drawing businesses downtown.

He pointed to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs as an example, though he said it could be premature to consider something so extensive.

All said they looked forward to adding outside perspective and getting residents involved.

"I'm anxious to see what we can do to have somebody else help us help ourselves," Hayden said. "So we can all grow and prosper and make this a little better community all the time. That's what we want to achieve."

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