By Sarah Pridgeon
Convenience and outdoor recreation have been identified as the two strategies that will be used to kick start improvements for the Sundance downtown area. Matt Wagner of the National Main Street Program and Linda Klink from the Wyoming Main Street Program returned to Sundance last week for the latest milestone of the “transformation strategy development technical study” that was awarded to the city earlier this year.
Having consolidated what was learned through a fact-finding visit in May, Wagner presented six potential strategies that Sundance could use to start boosting its Main Street presence. The Sundance Main Street Committee selected the two they felt were most appropriate.
The first, convenience and civic improvement, largely targets local residents and workers. It is designed around improving the attributes of the downtown to attract shoppers and add convenience for nearb
y residents, Wagner explained.
To make a downtown area sustainable, he continued, “You need both local shoppers and people coming in from out of town.”
In the report Wagner presented, he explained that people who work in and around the area need access to a variety of convenience items, from groceries to carry-out meals and small hardware to greeting cards, as well as personal and professional services such as hair care, daycare and medical.
“Tapping into the district’s ‘captive market’ of potential customers and expanding sales and services for them helps create a self-sustaining economic ecosystem in the district,” said the report.
This strategy brings opportunities for existing businesses to expand with new products and services and often, said the report, generates new demand for housing. One of the keys to success, according to the report, is to ensure businesses are flexible enough to provide their services at the times most convenient for their customers: before and after work and during the lunch hour for commercial workers; and evenings and weekends for those who live in and near the district.
The second strategy, outdoor recreation, would aim to connect destination outdoor attractions with the downtown area. Communities known for recreation or outdoor destinations often attract a resident population to participate, said the report, so this strategy could serve residents and visitors equally.
This strategy, according to the report, can generate local jobs in retail, guides, hospitality and so on and builds on existing attractions by connecting them to the downtown area.
Wagner urged the committee to think of projects that relate to and push these two strategies. He split attendees at the presentation into groups focused on three of the four pillars of the Main Street approach: design, organization, promotion and economic vitality.
Promotion was not included in the day’s activities as Wagner and Klink felt Sundance already boasts plenty of opportunities, from events such as Freeze Your Fanny and the Sip ‘n Walk to the farmer’s markets, art auctions, ladies’ nights and the beer, pumpkin and winter festivals.
“You’re extremely strong on promotion,” he said, explaining that the only thing likely to be necessary is greater organization.
Wagner asked attendees to come up with five or six projects that could begin right away to push the two strategies, suggesting that the committee starts with “low hanging fruit” as these ideas will be the easiest to implement as the ball begins to roll. He asked the groups to identify one of the ideas and take it further, developing a timeframe and a volunteer to take it on.
Reggie Gaylord presented the ideas that the design group came up with, which included way-finding signs that begin all the way out at the visitor’s center, promoting Sundance as an rv-friendly community and promoting the outdoor activities within Sundance, such as the walking paths, golf course, parks and pond. The idea the design group took further was to push the city’s beautification loans, approaching local businesses to explain what they are and how they can be put to work.
Andy Miller presented for the economic vitality group, listing potential projects such as employee education, an art/music walk event, a business spotlight and a resource guide for new businesses. The project this group suggested to kick off the effort was a comprehensive event calendar.
Finally, Kathy Lenz presented for the organization group, listing possible projects such as melding the city and Chamber of Commerce websites and volunteer development that matches people with their passions.
We don’t ask for help as much as we could, Lenz said, and volunteers don’t always know there’s a need.
“If they knew, they probably would come help us,” she said.
The project that the organization group developed further was to source a mobile electronic sign that could be used to promote Main Street, events and even individual businesses. This, said Lenz, could potentially be purchased through grant funding and maintenance paid for by displaying ads during Rally Week.
Wagner will be sending worksheets this week that help to prioritize project ideas and create ways through which the committee can evaluate its progress.
“How would you know if it’s been successful? Each task has a metric,” he explained.
Kelly Savage of architects Robert Peccia & Associates gave an update on Thursday of plans for the new park next to Old Stoney. Around 40 people responded to the survey Savage prepared with four different potential options, she said, and several elements emerged as popular.
The overall hope is to design a park all about “keeping it simple, keeping it unique”, Savage said. Of the four options, there “wasn’t really a strong specific option that rose to the top”, with respondents liking individual features from each of the four designs.
Among those popular features were natural materials; a vertical water element in the splash pad area; a small play area for the kids during events and gatherings with a “rocks and ropes” theme; and a covered stage for events and gatherings.
Respondents also liked the historical elements, including the old jail house and the idea of moving the Sundance Kid statue into the park in a position that’s visible from Cleveland St. Sundance Square appeared to be the most popular name for the new park, while respondents tended to prefer the idea of a family-friendly gathering place that would be appropriate for informal uses, such as picnics.
A “controlled entrance” in the form of a park gate would allow easier use of the park for events, Savage said, by providing a place to take or sell tickets, for example. Respondents also appeared to like the idea of a historic boardwalk, perhaps including an interpretive timeline.
The design of the park will make it possible to complete the project in phases, Savage explained. Rather than complete the entire design at one time, elements can be added when money comes available.
Savage pointed out that this will make it easier to direct donations to particular elements of the park at the request of the donor. It will also allow the city to pursue specific grants aimed as such things as entertainment for children or wellness.
“We’d love to hear really specific concerns before we finalize the design,” Savage concluded.