Mainstreet Steamboat Springs plans for big changes in 2015 | SteamboatToday.com

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs plans for big changes in 2015

People pack the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Farmers Market this summer.

— Mainstreet Steamboat Springs is preparing to roll out some big changes in 2015 that range from an expanded farmers market to the possible semi-retirement of longtime downtown advocate and Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett.

The downtown advocacy organization charted out its plans for the year Thursday during a well-attended annual meeting at Aurum Food & Wine.

In a speech to downtown stakeholders, city officials and local business leaders, Mainstreet Board President Jon Sanders was bullish on downtown’s future in 2015.

He pointed out that sales tax revenue downtown continues to climb, new restaurants and businesses are planning to move in, commercial property is being sold and Mainstreet will work to secure more marketing dollars through efforts like selling sponsorships on banners and wayfinding signage.

But he said there are some big decisions and challenges Mainstreet will face this year.

“We do need more money. We need more members, and we need to market our downtown more in the next few years before the base area develops,” Sanders said. “We need to be proactive.”

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He and several other board members expressed strong support for the city of Steamboat Springs’ proposal to use tax increment financing and an urban renewal authority to fund downtown infrastructure like sidewalks and lighting in the coming years.

City staff was on hand at the meeting to present their plan and answer questions.

The Steamboat Springs City Council will consider the URA proposal Tuesday.

Sanders also said whether Mainstreet again will try to pursue funding for a business improvement district with a property tax is “a big debate that’s still on the table for the coming year.”

Efforts to fund the downtown BID failed in November and in a previous election in 2008.

Change was a big theme in Sanders’ speech that was preceded by the announcement of four new Mainstreet board members.

Sanders said the organization is looking to rebrand. It also wants to hire an additional person this year so Barnett can “slowly begin to retire.”

Barnett has managed Steamboat’s Mainstreet program since its inception in 2004, and she spent many years and countless hours working to improve downtown.

Prior to working for Mainstreet, she owned and managed Mazzola’s Majestic Italian Diner.

Barnett told the audience that she and her husband, Cooper, have been talking about RVing for a long time.

“And we might get to do it soon,” she said.

Barnett has assured everyone she will continue working with Mainstreet when a new staff member is brought on. A transition plan for Barnett will be considered at Mainstreet’s Feb. 3 board meeting.

In other action, Mainstreet:

• Announced plans for an expanded Mainstreet Farmers Market that will occupy part of Yampa Street and potentially part of Lincoln Avenue on some weekends

• Welcomed new board members Kelly Landers, Phil Armstrong, Josh Kagan and Sarah Freese

• Recognized Urbane as the business of the year

• Recognized Jenni DeFouw and Sally TeStrake as the volunteers of the year

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10