A group that wants to revitalize Blair Street — along with downtown Silverton in general — is asking the town government to come up with nearly $14,000 in next year’s budget for improved signage and other features to make more visitors aware that Blair Street is open for business (though not the kind of business that made it infamous).
Cindy Bryant, owner of the Silverton Trading Post on East 12th Street, said the Blair Street Historic District Association also is looking at long-range plans to make Blair Street more attractive to visitors without giving up its rough edges that make it unique.
“We want to keep it rustic, but improve it,” Bryant told the Town Council on Monday night, Sept. 27.
But the first priority, she said, is to make Blair Street more noticeable, with signs and improved lighting.
“Some people have been coming to town for years and didn’t even know there was another street with businesses,” Bryant said. “We just want to make people more aware that there’s more to this town.”
The money requested from the town includes $8,000 to repaint the “Welcome to Silverton” signs near U.S. 550, $1,640 to design and produce 10 banners for Blair and Greene streets, $1,680 for old-fashioned hitching posts, and $120 for street signs.
Bryant said the group would like to do more in 2012, perhaps seeking a grant to make more dramatic improvements to downtown, such as new sidewalks and lighting.
Richard Sales, director of the Colorado Center for Community Development, presented to the Town Council some ideas drafted by University of Colorado-Denver and Fort Lewis College students to add some flair to Blair.
“We’re really in the beginning stages in this process,” Sales said.
He identified three “basic elements that could really improve all of downtown.”
He pointed to what he called “gaps” that make it difficult for pedestrians to traverse the side streets from Greene to Blair, the need for more attractions, and for better signage to help visitors navigate.
He proposed narrowing Blair Street from the current 100-feet width to 80 feet, to allow for wider sidewalks.
“We can look at ways to do that without affecting snow removal,” Sales said.
The graduate students working on the conceptual plans for Blair Street also proposed a performing arts center as an anchor in town that could be built at what is now dubbed Potty Park.
But Sales said any improvements to Blair Street need to respect the unrespectable past of the town’s historic red light district.
“Nobody wants to spruce up Blair Street too much,” Sales said. “We don’t want to make it too shiny.”
Bryant said that some of the town’s 1-percent sales tax approved by voters in 2008 was designated for capital improvements, and the much-needed work downtown should receive attention.