Colin St.Clair
Downtown Grand Junction Resident

 

My wife Carrie and I are not from Grand Junction. In fact, neither of us are from Colorado. I grew up just outside of Washington D.C., and Carrie in the thumb of Michigan. While searching for a new place to call home in 2015, we decided to visit Grand Junction. Staying at an AirBnB on Gunnison Avenue, we fell in love with Downtown GJ.

We loved Grand Junction so much, that we soon decided to rent a little house Downtown. A few months later, we were sold and bought a bungalow on Main Street. A bumper sticker on my Toyota pickup identifies me as “invasive.” It makes me laugh, but Carrie is not amused. I figure not everyone can be a lifelong local or Colorado Native, and that’s O.K. because the good people of GJ treat us as if we are longtime residents.

Making folks feel welcome is just one of the great things about Grand Junction. Here in Downtown GJ, we have found a sense of community and became a part of the neighborhood. This, along with unequalled access to outdoor recreation, a thriving university, an airport, affordable housing, and Grand Junction’s Historic Downtown is why we have chosen to make this city our home. Not only have we been welcomed here, but we are regularly invited to participate in process and conversation that impact the future direction of the City.

Because community input matters to Downtown GJ, I was asked to participate in the process for an updated Downtown Plan of Development via the Community Action Team (CAT). The CAT was organized by Downtown GJ and Community Builders, a non-profit leading the process for a new Downtown Plan, also known as the Vibrant Together Initiative.

The CAT is a diverse group of stakeholders organized to provide community feedback during the Downtown Plan process. The primary task of the CAT was to work towards creating a better Downtown- this seemed like a pretty tall order, as we think Downtown Grand Junction is pretty great as is.

At my first CAT meeting, it became immediately apparent that both Downtown GJ and Community Builders valued the input of all community members. Community feedback was gathered, and the evolving Downtown Plan adjusted accordingly. This was an all hands on deck endeavor.

The future direction of Downtown and its ability to meet the needs of the business community, current residents, and future residents were discussed. Priorities and common goals were agreed upon, and potential obstacles were considered. Ideas varied of course, but all were thoughtfully considered.

Whether ideas were presented by small business owners, developers, elected officials, or just residents like myself, it was clear that the organizers were not only listening and taking notes, but that the input was valued. In the coming months, it was exciting to see so many of those suggestions from the first meeting developed into something tangible. Those initial ideas now feel like attainable goals!

After participating in the CAT, we are even more excited about Downtown Grand Junction and its future. There is a positive energy here, and it’s contagious. We are thrilled to be apart of it.

Megan Alfano
Downtown GJ Business Owner- Colorado Baby

Pull out your sun shades and let out a cheer because there’s no doubt about it, Grand Junction is becoming more vibrant. Thanks to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), I had the privilege of working with the Community Action Taskforce (CAT) for the past 9 months to contribute ideas toward a long-term vision for our local event and economic growth.The “Grand (Junction) Scheme” of the CAT is to build partnerships amongst downtown businesses owners, leaders, and citizens that don’t just exist on paper, but drive the planning process with energy and enthusiasm.As a Main Street business owner, a downtown advocate, and a life-long Grand Junction-ite, I was honored to be selected to this task force as part of the Vibrant Together Project. To have a real voice in honing the place that my family and I live has been an eye-opening and humbling experience. Kudos to the Glenwood Springs-based “Community Builders” group for guiding the process smoothly and for listening to us rather than pushing an outside agenda.

My favorite CAT meeting included a collaborative group activity where participants were able to brainstorm ideas for several topics of interest such as walkability, connectivity, and creative ways to enhance the aesthetics and accessibility of our business alleyways, for example. After small-group discussion, we then distilled and prioritized the ideas according to long-term vs. short-term feasibility and impact, which drove home the point that Grand Junction is most lively and bright when we speak up and listen together.It’s been nearly 40 years since the current Grand Junction Plan of Development was drafted.

Take a moment to consider the many changes, struggles, and successes we have experienced as a community in that amount of time. We are now standing on the brink of a new chapter and I am excited that my friends, neighbors, and I had the opportunity to participate in this process through public meetings, surveys and the CAT.

Bill Wade
Chairman of the Board of Directors- Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley

As someone who grew up in Grand Junction – downtown has always been a part of my life. What happens to downtown has a major effect on how we maintain the personality of the city we love. That’s one major reason I wanted to be a part of the processI was in the 5th Grade at Orchard Avenue when Operation Foresight – the original design of main street – began, and I saw how it saved our downtown. After I left Grand Junction for college, and then throughout my career, I saw many other cities try and revitalize their downtowns without the “bones” that we have in our Main Street design.

That’s why I was excited to be a part of the group working with the Downtown Development Authority to help create a new plan for the future of downtown. We NEED to maintain our city’s personality, take advantage of our weather and outdoor focus, and connect downtown to the Riverfront at Las Colonias.We can make Downtown even more of a destination and a place to be, and we can make it a great place to live and work as well. Take a look at the proposed plan of development, and help us make Downtown Grand Junction the place to play, work and live for years to come.