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Three southern Colorado towns receive state grants in Revitalizing Main Streets program

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (KRDO) -- Fountain, La Junta and Silver Cliff applied for and received state funding for community beautification and safety projects in the second year of the Revitalizing Main Streets program.

The grant awards were announced Monday.

The program began last summer to help municipalities cope with negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the program was continued and expanded with $30 million from state lawmakers in March.

According to a CDOT release, the program "helps localities improve their roadways and community infrastructure, supporting strong economic activity and public safety."

Fountain will receive around $100,000 to continue previously-awarded intersection improvements at the busy downtown intersection of Main Street and Ohio Avenue. Work will include installing including bump-outs, ramps that meet federal guidelines for the disabled, bike racks and improved sidewalks.

But Jim White, a longtime downtown property owner, believes there are better ways to spend the money.

"I'm glad the resources are there," he said. "But let's get trees on both sides of the street There are some dead ones. I would say let's do that first, get some greenery. It's the old adage for the rest of what they're planning -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

La Junta will receive $65,600 to start a bike share program; it will acquire 26 bikes and 30 bike racks to establish stations at several areas across town. A teacher and two high school students helped write the grant proposal.

"It's really hard to write a grant application," said Cynthia Nieb, of the town's urban renewal office. "People don't realize that. I'd say that the students did 80% of it. But we had a lot of people contributing overall, and I think that's why CDOT liked our proposal."

Silver Cliff will receive one of the largest awards, $150,000. The town will spend it on replacing the sidewalk in front of the Silver Cliff Museum for better disabled access, improve access and drainage along the Main Street area and build a shade pavilion shade structure -- with restrooms and other amenities -- in the area between the museum, town hall and senior center.

Because the project's total cost is around $315,000, the town received another grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and is also using local donations.

"We wouldn't have been able to do this in 100 years," said Roger Camper, who works for the town's building and zoning office. "Silver Cliff is a very small community, as it has been since 1879."

The program has funded 97 projects across the state so far. To see the list, visit: https://www.codot.gov/programs/revitalizingmainstreets/assets/rms-awards-as-of-5-27-21.pdf.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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