Gypsum considers several improvements | VailDaily.com

Gypsum considers several improvements

GYPSUM — Gypsum is filled with people who believe they live in a great community.

But those same folks also largely believe the town doesn't look as great as it could, or should, look. Gypsum officials hope to change that problem.

Earlier this year, the town of Gypsum contracted with a firm called Design Workshop to look specifically at the appearance of the town from Interstate 70. That effort grew to include the U.S. Highway 6 corridor and transformed into a nearly $5 million makeover list.

Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll noted that the plan for improvements at the Gypsum I-70 interchange is generally cosmetic. He noted that there is limited development and no commercial use on the north side of I-70, so roadway improvements such as a roundabout are not yet needed. Shroll said landscaping and general improvements to the I-70 interchange would be a first step in dressing up Gypsum's appearance and would provide a better first impression for visitors.

Preliminary cost for the project is around $500,000 and the town would have to work through the Colorado Department of Transportation process to proceed with the effort. Noting that the money is not budgeted and the process will likely be lengthy, Shroll said that Gypsum returned to Design Workshop to see if there were any other projects the town could pursue. As a result the town and the company opted to take a comprehensive look at the Highway 6 corridor from the Gypsum roundabout to the area just east of Eagle Valley High School.

The two entities came up with lots of ideas.

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Info Center, park and more

One of the first needs for Gypsum identified during the process was for an information center. The town has earmarked a site — located north of Highway 6, south of the Gypsum westbound off ramp and west of the existing roundabout — for an information center.

"Hopefully the visitor center would do what all visitor centers do — drive traffic to restaurants and businesses in Gypsum," said Shroll.

He noted the preliminary plan for the site includes the center, a play area and a dog park. Shroll envisions a working center complete with arrival and departure monitors for flights to and from the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Moving up the Highway 6 corridor, Shroll noted the need for a permanent variable message board sign, bike lanes and creekside landscaping. He noted that currently the roadway is characterized by concrete barriers on the east side.

"We think we can do better. We can dress up that entry to town," he said. "We really want to open up and beautify the area along Gypsum Creek."

Because Gypsum owns a substantial portion of the ground next to Highway 6, Shroll said the community is in a good position to embark on an enhancement program. In large part, it's only money that stands between the town and the improvements. But it is a good sized price tag — the preliminary estimate for the Highway 6 enhancements is nearly $5 million.

"That makes it a very long, phased project," said Shroll.

Shroll said initial responses from the recent Gypsum community survey show residents want the town to dress things up a bit.

"I describe it as people want us to trade in our T-shirts and shorts for a collared shirt and pants," said Shroll. "This plan is really about taking advantage of the amenities Gypsum has."

Likely the first step in the process will come this fall when the Gypsum Town Council studies the community's 2016 budget. Shroll noted that if Gypsum decides to actually pursue the enhancement program, its going to have to start saving for it.