A “For Lease” sign hangs in a building on Main Street, Cedaredge. The town has budgeted more than $1 million in funds for streetscape and infrastructure improvements.

CEDAREDGE—(December 18) No question, Downtown Cedaredge could use a little love. Dotted with empty spaces, drab, weathered storefronts and for sale signs, the town’s Main Street business district faces stiff competition from commercial development along Hwy 65. So it’s no surprise that the town’s 2013 budget includes more than $1 million for Downtown improvements.

“We want to revitalize Main Street, with pedestrian crossings, and landscaping,” Cedaredge Town Manager Katie Sickles said. “And most important, we want to re-do our storm water system so that it runs away from properties. Now, when it runs across the road it freezes, and can flood businesses on the south side.”

Sickles noted that the project has been in the works for 12 years, and would begin in the spring of 2013. The plan was designed by Landscape Architect Julee Wolverton and engineered by Buckhorn Geotech, of Montrose.

“This will really add to our environment, while protecting property,” Sickles said.

The timing is right for improvements, noted business owner David Starr of Starr’s Guitars (250 West Main St.).

“We need a facelift, just like any small town,” Starr said. “I would like to see the place spruced up. It’s like remodeling a room; if you make it nicer, people want to spend more time there.”

The improvements will benefit the community by making things safer for pedestrian traffic, said Eileen Liles of Macht-Liles Real Estate Group.

“I think it will be a great improvement,” Liles said. “Cedaredge is a wonderful little town! But our Main Street is not level, and when the ice and snow build up, the snow starts melting, runs across the street and freezes overnight. This is a real safety issue for people in town walking around.”

For George Martinez of Cedaredge Hairport (180 West Main) the issue is not of huge importance—because after 23 years, his business continues to thrive. However, Martinez is keenly aware of the challenges other local businesses have faced.

“The sidewalks in front of my shop are just fine,” he said. “But a lot of businesses have gone under—it’s pretty ghostly around here.”

Despite the planned improvements, not everyone believes that Cedaredge is doing what it can to support its business community.

After 11 years as the developer for DeerCreek Village Golf Course Community in Cedaredge, former CPA Tim Callihan is no stranger to the intricacies of doing business here. And yet a note of astonishment creeps into his voice as Callihan speaks of his experience opening two local Subway franchises—one in Cedaredge, the other in Hotchkiss.

“We opened in Cedaredge two days before AppleFest two years ago,” he said. “We opened our store in Hotchkiss on June 9, 2012. Hotchkiss bent over backwards—they couldn’t have been nicer. Everybody went out of their way to be cordial, with the intention of bringing our business to town.

“In Cedaredge, the town hit me with impact fees as soon as we opened our Subway.”

Expensive impact fees don’t make sense in a small town, he added.

“In Montrose, they did not establish impact fees until they had unstoppable growth,” Callihan said. “We bought this building from David Starr, completely remodeled it and added square footage. We borrowed and spent lots of money. It took a long time to get it done, and Cedaredge made it more difficult.”

Callihan noted that out of more than 40,000 Subway Stores worldwide, the Cedaredge franchise placed 216 in the world in terms of customer response to surveys. In its own smaller market, the Cedaredge store placed second of 200.

Now that the business is open and established, “It has been very rewarding,” he said. “We see this as a real plus for the community.”