Envisioning a future Gypsum: Community’s new master plan contemplates ‘nontraditional’ downtown
GYPSUM — According to its community surveys, Gypsum residents enjoy living in the town.
Gypsum dwellers cite the community’s family atmosphere, recreation amenities and affordability as some of their town’s best attributes. But they also want more from the community — most notably they long for a downtown core. This is one of the big goals set forth in the newly minted Gypsum Master Plan.
The town kicked off its master plan process in the spring of 2016 and plans to bring the completed document to the Gypsum Planning Commission and Gypsum Town Council in early May for ratification.
Gypsum Town Planner Lana Gallegos noted the town’s last master plan effort was done in 1999. She noted it was time to update the town’s objectives, especially because a number of the goals listed in the ’99 plan have been achieved. That document cited the need for a regional recreation center, for example, and the Gypsum Recreation Center has been up and running for a decade now.
“One of the goals in the 1999 plan was to create a downtown. It was focused on Railroad Avenue and we didn’t get there,” Gallegos said.
In the nearly two decades since that plan, Gypsum has had time to rethink what a downtown core means and while revitalization of the community’s historic commercial area still carries through in the new plan, Gypsum is willing to look at other areas as its downtown.
For instance, the area around Ridley’s Market has been cited as a downtown core possibility. Gallegos noted that area includes a large swath of undeveloped land that could accommodate restaurants, shops and other gathering places where residents could congregate.
“It’s not a traditional downtown,” she said, but she also noted the activities of nearby Eagle Valley High School could dovetail with the effort.
Five core neighborhoods
Gypsum’s new master plan includes five core neighborhoods:
• The Front Door — The area around the Gypsum Interstate 70 interchange.
• Gypsum on the River — The Eagle River frontage near the Rittenhouse building.
• The Yard — Gypsum’s historic downtown along Railroad Avenue.
• The Market — the commercial zone near Ridley’s.
• The Campus — the EVHS campus and the library, town hall, recreation center and Lundgren Theater area along Valley Road.
The town has identified development goals and architectural themes for each of these areas.
At the Front Door, the town wants to improve the visual impact and increase the commercial options for I-70 travelers. Gallegos said the goals include attracting uses such as a hotel and dining options which would appeal to motorists. Additionally, Gypsum’s long term plan includes construction of a visitor information center in the Front Door area.
Gallegos said the Gypsum on the River area is seen as a complement to the Eagle River Park development at the county fairgrounds property. She noted that people who put in at the Eagle site could float to Gypsum for a take out. Additionally, the area will accommodate fishermen and other river activities.
The Yard area contemplates a section of street level commercial uses with second story residential uses. Gallegos noted that builder Gary Defino is currently at work on a new building in the area that meets those specs. “We hope that will stimulate further development down there,” she said.
The Market, as noted previously, is seen as a downtown core options for the town. “We have a lot of undeveloped area to the east of this piece,” Gallegos said. The Gypsum plan contemplates residential development along with commercial options, shared parking area and open space.
Finally, the Campus area will be defined by the EVHS renovations contemplated by Eagle County School District. The town’s goal is to “work with the school district to ensure future expansion to promote a cohesive architectural presence along Highway 6 and Valley Road.”
Time to comment
With the master plan slated for adoption in May, Gallegos noted there is still time for residents to offer comment regarding the document. The town has hosted a series of open house sessions and will accept written comments regarding the plan through April 10. The draft plan can be viewed at http://www.townofgypsum.com.
To offer comment, email email@example.com.
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