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Mill Street is still a downtown gem - Comments (1) View Comments
Melanie Brubaker Mazur - 6/26/3009
I like working downtown.
I can walk down the street with my coffee cup, pick up stuff at Mill Street Drug, get the mail, and pay the water bill in a quick 10-minute walk. And I usually get to stop and talk to a couple of people I know while doing so.
Yes, the street is falling apart, that is s one thing I we would like to see repaired.
A town trustee was quoted recently in our fine little paper (May 22, 2009) that Mill Street is not a priority for the town of Bayfield.
I respectfully disagree.
Mary O’Donnell, the owner of Mill Street Drug, and I chair the Downtown Bayfield Association. We both have an interest in a vital downtown because we own properties here, but like a lot of other folks who live and work downtown, we care about the bigger picture, as well.
What would Bayfield be without Mill Street and downtown?
Hmmm, a bleak-looking highway and some development on the north side of town that looks strip malls found anywhere in the U.S.
I don’t think we could have a Fourth of July parade or sheep trailing on U.S. Highway 160, because CDOT would never allow it. Mountain View Drive is a residential area and probably wouldn’t like having thousands of cars park there for big events.
Downtown is where Bayfield started, and it is something that many of us are trying to preserve.
The DBA is working on a walking tour of historical Mill Street and downtown buildings. We’ve received a grant for this project from the Colorado State Historical Fund, and Jack McGroder, Bayfield’s town intern, has been instrumental in moving this project forward. The town just completed a historical survey of all the buildings, which makes for some pretty interesting reading. We’ll hold a public meeting this summer asking for the public’s input on the walking tour.
Next, the DBA is working to organize Summer Nights on Mill Street. Last year, we had two events with music and food in front of downtown businesses, and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work, too, so if you’d like to join in and volunteer, or hold a fundraiser for your group, we would love to have you! Call me at 884-2331 if you have any ideas or want to participate.
Debbie Halwes, owner of Mill Street Brews, is trying to gauge interest in having a farmers and crafters market downtown, possible on Saturdays, or maybe at another time. If you’re interested in that, call her at 884-7070, or 779-0889.
Kinsee Morlan, owner of the Red House Gallery, has had some wonderful art nights downtown as well. They’re typically on the third Saturday night of the month, More info is at www.theredhousegallery.com.
Ultimately, the DBA has been talking with the town about a Mill Street renovation project. This would be a big pain, with some major street and sidewalk repairs, maybe some brick crosswalks, moving parking around, some nice lighting, more benches and planters, etc. I don’t see this happening in the next few years because the town doesn’t have that kind of mone, but maybe in the next five to 10 years, I hope it could be in the town’s list of priorities. Mill Street has some beautiful features – it’s quite wide, and old-timers have told me that’s so a team of mules, horses or oxen could turn a wagon on the street. There’s lots of trees, and some historical treasures, along with, frankly, some junky old building that it would be nice to see razed. That’s up to the individual property owners, of course. One of the disadvantages is that you can’t see downtown from 160B because of the street angle, so some people driving through don’t even know we HAVE a downtown. I’ve asked if it would be possible to re-align the street so it could run straight through to the highway. That might not work, but if we’re talking about redoing the street anyway, I was wondering what people think.
Finally, the Bayfield Town Board trustees made a wonderful decision when they decided to reduce the square footage a property owner needs to build apartments on downtown properties. The previous requirement meant a landowner had to have a really big lot to have apartments above a downtown business. Most of the lots here aren’t that large. As more people want to develop downtown, having a few loft apartments on the top floors makes economic sense. Bayfield also has a shortage of rentals and affordable housing, so it’s a win-win for property owners and residents.
I hope area folks will continue to support our downtown as we try to make it a more attractive place for people to come visit. The town of Ignacio is starting a planning process for downtown as well. We all know our downtowns will never be Durango or Telluride or Ouray, but that is OK, because that is not who we are. Our downtowns, however, are still the heart of our communities.
I have been fortunate to live in the Bayfield area for 32 years. I also work at Mill Street Drug which is a beautiful restored historic building. Bayfield is exceptional for a Colorado town because it is one of the last that hasnt "sold out". I own a house on North Street which is a great old neighborhood. Vist the real Bayfield by coming to historic old town. See the museum and do the walking tour.