What’s good and bad about downtown Evergreen?

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Business owners, managers respond to question asked by Jeffco planner

By Sandy Barnes

Downtown Evergreen has a blend of established businesses and new ones putting down roots, and their customers sometimes struggle to find a parking place and walk precariously along Main Street where the sidewalks end. 

During a March 24 meeting on potential updates to a community plan for Evergreen, Jeffco planner Russell Clark asked attendees to identify “the good and the bad” in the downtown area. 

Later, a reporter asked downtown business owners for their own answers to that question.

“I love being downtown,” said Pam Gilbert, who has owned the Holly Berry flower shop in Evergreen for 28 years. 

People who come to downtown Evergreen to shop get a level of customer service they don’t find in larger areas, Gilbert said.

Brad Nelson, owner of One World Cafe, said he likes the beautiful scenery and the small-town atmosphere.

“For 100 years, it has been the same downtown,” he said while watching an elk amble through the intersection of Highways 73 and 74.

However, Nelson and others pointed to what they consider a significant problem:

“As a business owner, there’s not enough parking,” he said. 

Both tourists and Evergreen residents comment about the lack of parking space, Nelson said. 

Nelson also expressed concern about the wooden sidewalks in front of downtown businesses. They add character; but sections of them are not well kept, he said.

“A lot of it is about roads and sidewalks. They are kind of a mess,” said Beth Riser of Main Street Fine Art Gallery.

“People are saying the town looks shabby,” Riser remarked.

Riser, who serves as president of the Evergreen Artists Association, is involved with an effort to establish a creative district in downtown Evergreen. Part of the process is to make improvements to the area, she said. A portion of downtown still has unrepaired damage from the 2013 flood, Riser noted.

An obstacle to downtown improvement projects is that property along Highway 74 is privately owned, Riser and others point out.

“It’s a challenge,” said Joyce Masyga of Endless Travel. “I hear over and over again about the sidewalks.”

There is a wonderful diversity of shops in downtown Evergreen, Masyga said. However, customers sometimes have difficulty getting to them because of the lack of parking spaces and sidewalks in some areas, she said.

One of the aspects of downtown Evergreen that Masyga says she really enjoys is the presence of Bear Creek. However, visitors to the area don’t have much opportunity to sit by the stream and enjoy it, she said. Benches perhaps could be placed along the creek in the parking lot in the center of town, Masyga added.

John Ellis, a lifelong Evergreen resident and director of community relations for Evergreen National Bank, also acknowledges the parking problem in the area.

“They’re going to have to do something,” Ellis said.

A possible shuttle service to and from the downtown area might help alleviate the situation in the summertime, he said.

Ellis said the loop trail from downtown to Evergreen Lake Park, which is about to be constructed, might also provide better access. Plans to create a trail system in Evergreen, which the Downtown Evergreen Economic District is supporting, also are a step in the right direction, he added.

“There’s a heart of people who want it to succeed,” Ellis said, while pointing to the strength of the community.

The events such as the Rodeo Parade also enhance the atmosphere of downtown Evergreen, he added.

The update continues

In the coming months, Clark and other Jeffco planners will continue meeting with residents in Evergreen and nearby communities as they gather data on for the update on the existing community plan.

Thirteen individual community plans will be incorporated into an overall master plan for Jeffco and will used as a guide for future growth, Clark said.

Residents who attended last week’s meeting reviewed a map of six activity centers identified for Evergreen and possible changes to their uses.

Clark also presented demographic information at the meeting. The median age of Evergreen area residents is 47, and 43 percent are over the age of 50, he said.

“Evergreen is considerably more mature than other parts of the county,” Clark said. 

A 2005 update of the Evergreen community plan states concerns about preserving the quality of the mountain area environment and wildlife habitat. Goals expressed in the plan include protecting air quality, protecting life and property from adverse impacts of natural and man-made hazards, and encouraging well-planned development.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-250-1042.