Should Evergreen be promoted to those who live here, or to tourists?
This is a key question that the Our Evergreen focus group, residents and business owners have been asking — and debating — in recent months.
Recent controversy over heavy traffic at the popular Evergreen Lake Park, which some say is overburdened by visitors, has added fuel to the discussion.
“There seems to be a dichotomy,” said Dean Dalvit, representing the Downtown Evergreen Economic District at a recent park and rec district board meeting. “Numerous organizations spend all of their annual budgets trying to figure out how to get more visitors to come.”
Trish Wales, president of DEED, said her organization has bought time on Denver television stations to promote Evergreen, and has produced informational programs, which aired this past summer. She and other DEED members also have spent time making sure that events in Evergreen are placed on lists of top activities in area media outlets.
“Evergreen is a cool town for people who want to get away,” Wales said. “People are starting to think about Evergreen. That also helps our economy.”
Some residents and business owners think otherwise, however — especially regarding Evergreen Lake Park.
Evergreen resident Bud Weare and other members of Evergreen Audubon have said throngs of visitors pose a threat to the environment at Evergreen Lake, and are pushing the limits of its carrying capacity.
Business owners at the Lakepoint Center say visitors to the lake crowd their parking lot and Upper Bear Creek Road, leaving little space for customers and clients.
However, downtown business owners such as Janice Stutters say they depend on tourists to support them financially.
The lake was meant for people to use, not just to have elk running around it, Stutters remarked.
Ron Issacson, director of the Our Evergreen group, has pointed out that Evergreen was established 100 years ago as a respite for Denver residents wanting a break from city living.
However, the focus group has seen debate within its members about its targeted audience.
While meeting over the past few months, the group has discussed and compared the relative merits of a “shop local” approach with a regional campaign to draw outside people to Evergreen.
The focus group is beginning to work with Evergreen businesses and organizations to develop a “live and shop local” window decal that merchants can use, and possibly to create a “Shop Evergreen” day.
Lin Browning, president of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce, is among those who embrace a shop-local approach. Encouraging local shopping can help downtown and Bergen Park businesses, she said. Residents who shop in Evergreen support the economy and also save time and money when they stay here rather than travel down the hill, Browning remarked.
The Our Evergreen group is now exploring the possibility of acquiring Creative Corridor status from the state, according to Issacson. Steve Sumner, director of the Center for the Arts Evergreen, is helping to implement the process through Creative Corridor Industries, which offers grant funding.
Meanwhile, Intero Real Estate Services is in the midst of a photo contest designed to promote Evergreen. And the Canyon Courier is offering “I love Evergreen” license plate holders to new subscribers.
Contact Sandy Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-350-1042.