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Publish Date: 5/8/2005

LDDA board to craft ‘master plan’

LONGMONT — The Longmont Downtown Development Authority’s board of directors met Saturday to discuss the group’s role in shaping the long-range future of Main Street.

The special meeting was in advance of a gathering Monday that will bring together the LDDA and the Longmont Area Economic Council, the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce and the Longmont City Council. That meeting will focus heavily on retail development in the city.

After nearly three hours of discussion, the LDDA board decided to form a subcommittee to come up with a “master plan” for Main Street, with the acknowledgement that the city will have to get involved at some point.

Board member Bill Sawyers said he would like the LDDA to take the lead in creating a master development plan that addresses virtually the entire length of Main Street, from the Prospect neighborhood to the south up to Colo. Highway 66 to the north.

Current LDDA boundaries extend just beyond First Avenue to the south and to Longs Peak Avenue to the north.

“I don’t want to scare anybody by thinking too big, but I just think there’s a huge opportunity right now,” said Sawyers, a local architect.

The city is in the midst of its so-called midtown study, which is examining Main Street from Longs Peak north to 17th Avenue. Meanwhile, the city also has hired a consultant to determine the most feasible location for a parking garage downtown.

Bruce Sessions, a downtown dentist and chairman of the LDDA board, said he believes maintaining continuity north of the current LDDA boundaries would be the best thing for all of Main Street.

City Councilman Doug Brown, who attended Saturday’s meeting, agreed that the LDDA should play a key role in the development and redevelopment of Main Street as a whole, not just the downtown.

“I look at Main Street and I really think this is where it can happen for Longmont,” Brown said. “If you look at Fort Collins — they’ve got (U.S. Highway) 287, just like we do. And it starts out big box, and then by the time you get up to the north end of town, you’ve got a walking mall, and it’s very nice up there.”

Mary Murphy-Bessler, executive director of the LDDA, told the board she thinks the redevelopment of the flour mill, which is being discussed, should be a high priority.

Councilwoman Karen Benker, the council’s liaison to the LDDA board, said she’s in favor of a master plan but wants to see it prioritized. She also said she thinks one of the priorities should be getting Murphy-Bessler some help, as she is the LDDA’s lone full-time staffer.

Another board member, Alex Sammoury of the CTEK Longmont Venture Center and a downtown property owner, said he believes the LDDA might even be able to pull in assistance from Longmont businesses that don’t have a stake in downtown, given Main Street’s importance to the city’s overall quality of life.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.

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