Common Consumption Areas entertained

John Scarffe, Nederland.  Two proponents of Entertainment Districts presented their advantages to the Nederland Board of Trustees during a regular meeting at 7 p.m., August 1, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. The Board also approved the master plan document for the Nederland Downtown Development Authority.

 

Ron Mitchell requested that the Board discuss the possibility of creating a Downtown Entertainment District, including a common consumption area, according to background. Mitchell presented his proposal for a Downtown Entertainment District to the Nederland Downtown Development Authority (NDDA) on August 20 and September 17, 2014. Mitchell also submitted a petition to the Board in August 2016.

 

Mitchell invited an urban planning professional and a representative from Greeley to present information about their experiences with entertainment districts at the August 1 meeting. Nancy Blackwood with urban design and planning gave a brief overview.

 

An Entertainment District is an area consolidation of entertainment that includes the ability to create a common consumption area, Blackwood said. This creates a space where you can move around and fill your cup.

 

Entertainment Districts increase revenue and programs, add vibrancy and educate visitors. Thirty-five Nederland business representatives signed a 2015 petition in favor of an Entertainment District in the town.

 

This would be an opportunity to expand downtown events like First Friday Arts and all those wonderful things the town is well known for, Blackwood said. “We’ve been thinking about this for a long time. You could create an event on First Street.”

 

In addition to First Street, Entertainment District boundaries could be established on Jefferson Street and south of the Middle Boulder Creek area. This represents environmental, social and economic sustainability, Blackwood said.

 

The NDDA master plan talks about how important it is to create opportunities for gathering. Colorado has many successful Entertainment Districts. “I ask you to allow us to work with you to create this Entertainment District as an incentive for economic development,” Blackwood said.

 

Alison Hamling, director of downtown experiences in Greeley, said a lot of our cities have the same problems. Her job is to create an experience for people in Greeley. “People come here because they want the mom and pop.”

 

The first day on her job Hamling was handed a piece of paper asking her to look into an Entertainment District, and that was the beginning of a nine-month project. A common consumption area has to establish a physical barrier. It must be 100 acres in size, and the law is consistent with state liquor laws.

 

Liquor may be served until 4 a.m., but Greeley has no interest in doing that, Hamling said.

 

Greeley implemented an event every Friday night in the summer from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. They can add a date if needed. A city may have multiple Entertainment Districts sites.

 

“It is a lot of work,” Hamling said. The District’s Board of Directors must include two people who own or lease property within the proposed Entertainment District. It does require approval through the state liquor authority, and the board must get insurance. The cost of insurance is based on attendance.

 

Also at each event, Greeley has at least three or four paid professional security members. The District needs someone in place to take on the financial structure, in Greeley’s case, the DDA took that on. As a result of the Entertainment District in Greeley, more patios were added on the restaurants, and it attracted new businesses, Hamling said.

 

The city has 10 new restaurants and eight other new businesses. Two major renovations going on were attributed to the buzz. The core downtown increased by 25 percent.

 

A typical Friday night event is very family friendly. Hamling sets up a gate and a stage and sets out banners. Cups are disposable plastic, and they have a community block party.

 

Average attendance is 1,500 per night, and the Friday events often are used as a kickoff for other community events. “We try to send people out to businesses that are not in the common consumption area,” Hamling said.

 

Trustee Topher Donahue said that over the time he has been a Trustee he’s been involved in only a little cross-the-aisle collaboration with the NDDA. He wanted to try to get more collaboration forward in improving the downtown area with the NDDA.

 

The Board agreed to ask the NDDA to work on the idea of an Entertainment District for Nederland. The Board also considered approving the final Nederland Downtown Development Authority Master Plan.

 

The Nederland Downtown Development Authority is required to create and update a master plan, according to background. The first plan was completed in 2007. After completing sidewalks Phase 1 in 2011, the bulk of the 2007 plan, the NDDA was asked to update the plan to look to future debt authorizations.

 

The plan has been completed and approved, officially, by the NDDA at its May 17, 2017 board meeting.

 

During 2015 and 2016, the NDDA did extensive outreach through events, surveys and presentations to the District and general public. The NDDA used the feedback from the public, Vision 2020, the 2013 Comprehensive Plan and projects outlined in the Infrastructure Plan to create the 2017 master plan.

 

NDDA Board Chair Katrina Harms told the Board: “In front of you is the revised, final master plan.

 

Changes were made to the vision, and the plan was solidified and made to work around the vision of Nederland as environment first.”

 

Trustee Alan Apt said he likes the paragraph stating that the global environment is of paramount importance. Trustee Dallas Masters said none of the items have dollar amounts, so it’s an exciting document that allows you to go out and find goals.

 

Trustee Kevin Mueller said the plan needs measurable goals. Harms said that each project will have measurable goals as they get into more detail on each one. The plan was put out to the public on May 24.

 

Trustee Julie Gustafson said, “We all had an opportunity to provide feedback on this a year ago.”

 

Mueller said there is a disconnect between the vision and the projects. The backcasting process of coming up with a vision for the downtown and then asking the public for feedback was not used. “I feel like that process was never done.”

 

“That summarizes pages of comments I have,” Mueller said. The planning process has been reactionary, and the recommendations of projects are reactionary, but many of the other projects don’t address achieving a sustainable goal.

 

One of the goals of the plan would be to decrease vehicular traffic and then propose how we’re going to achieve that, Mueller said.

 

Harms said that the NDDA has talked with JVA, Inc., the Town’s engineering firm, about what they can do. “We state in here we’re going to do no harm. It does not include those details. When we can move forward we will take these projects individually,” Harms said.

 

“We’re not going to provide you with engineered drawings, but if we can move forward with these, that’s what you will have, and you guys are here as the backup for that. This is not the time for that,” Harms said.

 

Mueller pointed out that he doesn’t see anything about storm water management. “The Board will go back to these documents. That gives me pause, and I’m concerned about it. It’s time for us to invest in the environment — zero use of fossil fuels. I don’t see any projects listed to get us there.”

 

Mayor Kristopher Larsen said that he appreciates the modifications made on the plan. During public comment, NDDA Treasurer Mandi Kneer said she attended the public outreach meetings for the plan and went around to multiple boards.

 

“This is a guiding document that will allow us to obtain funding to come back with to budget and plan.

 

It’s the first of multiple steps to get projects off the ground,” Kneer said.

 

NDDA Board Member Brent Tregaskis said the master plan was not intended to get us into the weeds.

 

“This is a big picture document. As we get a project approved through you guys that’s when you get into the weeds. We want to do the right thing environmentally. That’s the work the engineering firm would do.”

 

The Board added environmental sections, and that’s our intent, Tregaskis said. “We want to keep advancing the ball. I could count the people on one hand who show up to NDDA meetings. You could sit and argue about this for another year.”

 

Masters said that it’s been over a year since the Board sent this back to the NDDA. Volunteers get burned out, and we don’t have the process in place to have more dialog between the Board and NDDA.

 

The NDDA bent over backwards, and we haven’t been good about meeting with them.

 

“It’s not perfect, but it’s 85 percent there,” Masters said. “You have guiding documents like this because you never know when the federal government will have a grant program. It’s a good document and I’m going to vote for it.”

 

Gustafson said, “I think you nailed it. Supporting this is important to the direction of the town, and not supporting it is harmful to the town. It’s time for us to step up and do a better job of working with the DDA.”

 

Apt said he was very impressed. A lot of tremendous effort went into it. Now he is the Board liaison with the DDA, and he will take some of Kevin’s ideas and implement them.

 

Trustee Topher Donahue said the plan is much improved. He agrees with what Kevin said, but Kevin didn’t have time to attend the meeting when those comments would be most appropriate. “It would have been awesome if he were there. I do support this plan,” Donahue said.

 

The Board voted to approve the master plan, with Mueller voting against it.

 

The Board met on August 15, 2017. The next regular meeting of the Nederland Board of Trustees will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5, at the Nederland Community Center.