The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from Colorado Creative Industries' Creative District Technical Assistance program to develop a "Signage and Wayfinding" master plan for the creative district and the Town of Paonia.
Many towns around the state are suffering economically simply because they are not getting noticed well enough to bring visitors in, said creative coalition representative Elaine Brett. CCI and the state Office of Economic Development are encouraging the use of signage to bring attention and visitors into communities.
The coalition will use the grant to hire C+B Design, LLC, of Henderson, Colo., to facilitate the planning process. C+B Design has done extensive work in other cities and communities, including creative coalition "sister cities" Ridgway and Trinidad, as well as Crestone and Ignacio. The master plan will include a comprehensive inventory of existing signs in and around Paonia.
A team evaluated the communities located along the West Elk Loops Scenic Byway for how easy it is to find its way around the town and locate historic and other landmarks, explained Brett. In looking at Paonia, the team said the NFVCC "has an excellent website, although cell service is intermittent and visitors information in short supply." The team found most of the notable features "by randomly driving through town." The downtown area has a lot to offer, but no signage at the entrances to town that mention them, aside from an "aging state historical sign planted in a weedy turnaround" at the north entrance to town. Their conclusion: "This fine downtown needs a more positive entry."
"What we're proposing to do is provide a more positive entry," as well as signs in and around town that point people to the Paonia creative district, said Brett.
The Delta County Board of County Commissioners has pledged a $2,500 match toward the grant. In its letter of support the BoCC states that "Delta County has experienced positive economic growth due to strategic investments in broadband, an increase in the creative industries and a focus on business."
The creative district will kick off the planning process with a community-wide "Design Week" charette from May 30-June 5, in the community room at Paonia Town Hall. They invite all interested parties and stakeholders to participate in the process.
"People are discovering Paonia," said Brett With the real estate market booming and more and more visitors coming to the area, all indications are that this is going to be a very busy summer. "We want people to be a part of this so that the signage reflects the nature and what matters most to this community."
The schedule of events is as follows:
Wednesday, May 30, 12 -5 p.m. -- "Neighbors are Designers community conversation; 5-7 p.m. -- Community workshop.
Thursday and Friday, May 31-June 1, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. -- Research and information gathering. Drop in and provide input and direction for new signage
Saturday, June 2, 9-11 a.m. -- pancake breakfast and design check-in. Enjoy breakfast and see some of the preliminary design ideas.
Sunday, June 3, 9-11 a.m. and Monday, June 4, 9 a.m-7 p.m. -- preliminary design refinements. Stop by and say hello!
Tuesday, June 5, 5 p.m. -- design presentation; 5:30-7 p.m. -- open house.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.