MONTROSE – With the appointment of a new director and reappointment of two of its board members, the Montrose Downtown Development Authority can really get rolling, said Board Chair Bob Brown.
Last week, the Montrose City Council hired Scott Shine, current senior city planner, as the new director for the DDA. Council also approved the reappointment of Ralph Walchle and Melanie Kline to the DDA board of directors this week’s meeting. Walchle is a downtown property owner and Kline owns Ouray Silversmiths on Main Street.
Brown said there’s a lot to do, and with everyone on board, DDA will eventually have a significant impact on the downtown economy.
“We’re really pleased we have somebody young and energetic of Scott’s caliber to come and work with us,” he said. “We have big plans for both Scott and the DDA.”
The overall goals of the DDA include making capital improvements, including infrastructure development, as well as business support, business recruitment and marketing both for the DDA and its member businesses, he said.
“We’re still working on a plan of development for both infrastructure and capital improvements,” Brown said. “That will include, but not be limited to, façade improvement and development of pedestrian friendly facilities.”
Brown said he would consider seeing a sidewalk café on Main Street as a first milestone.
“It would be the first sign we’re getting somewhere,” he said. “We’re getting there, but it will take a bunch of work that will change the infrastructure.”
Shine and the board will be involved in developing implementing the DDA’s goals, Brown said, but Shine’s one-year contract will have to be renewed annually, he said, because of TABOR restrictions.
Shine said he is very excited to see the DDA gain momentum and that the community “clearly supports” efforts to revitalize downtown.
“It’s something I’m interested in personally and professionally, a good fit, so I decided to apply,” he said. “I felt I had the education and experience to really help the organization get going and really make a difference.”
Shine, 28, received his undergraduate degree in environmental studies and sustainable development from Utah State University and then got his masters’ in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon.
While working on his graduate degree, Shine also worked for the Lane Council of Governments in Lane County, Ore., for two-and-a-half years, doing regional planning and writing grants for economic development.
Shine has been with the city for four years and was recently promoted from city planner to senior planner.
Shine’s annual salary will be $58,000, and he will receive health and other benefits through the city. He will receive a performance review in six months.
As the new executive director of the DDA, Shine’s contract officially begins July 31. He said he will set up an office on the northwest corner of Main Street and Uncompahgre Avenue, with the entrance just behind Brown’s store, Around the Corner Art Gallery.
Kline said she’s glad Shine accepted the job, because now DDA will have a “face” for the public.
“We’re going to start seeing some real changes, especially with Scott Shine at the helm,” she said. “DDA will have a face on the street, and one of the first things he’ll do is go out and meet people and explain what DDA is.”
The DDA board meets once a week, Kline said, and is “really gelling” as a group, as the individual members appear to agree on the direction of the organization.
“It seems like all of our votes are unanimous,” she said.
The coalescing of the board and a public presence by Shine can also be augmented by using social media to get the word out about what the DDA is up to, Kline said.
While the DDA is concerned with the big picture of downtown development, Kline heads up the Downtown Merchants Association, which she said is like a subcommittee arm of the DDA.
The DMA will take on tasks like setting up a Facebook account, working on special events, and helping promote individual businesses, whether or not they’re members of the DDA.
Kline just set up a Facebook account this week, which is listed as Montrose Colorado Downtown Merchants Association, and you can request to join.
One of the problems of getting more merchants involved in the DDA is that many business owners have to be at their stores for long hours, Kline said.
“So many mom and pop store don’t have staffing to go to meetings,” she said. “We’re all working hard in our own cubicles, but with social media and Scott as a link, we can involve everybody.”
Walchle agreed that the DDA board is pulling in the same direction, and said the hiring of Shine will help pave the way for future action.
“Things have been slow because we’ve tried to be methodical, but having a guy of Scott’s caliber is monumental,” he said. “What we really need to put in place is our development plan, and having him is going to make a big difference.”