Dillon adopts town core, waterfront master plans

DILLON — The Dillon Town Council adopted a pair of new plans during their regular meeting last Tuesday evening, which outlined broad concepts for the future vision of the marina and town core.

The council approved both the Waterfront Master Plan and the Town Core Master Plan last week, designed by MSA Professional Services, to update concepts for the future development of the Dillon Marina and improved connectivity and walkability in the town core.

The Waterfront Master Plan is broken into four separate sections detailing upgrades to the waterfront, service areas, public areas and general marina improvements. The waterfront section calls for the relocation and extension of the marina’s wave attenuator dock west past the launch ramp to provide better protection from waves, and to provide the opportunity for additional boating slips, which should help provide a safer experience for recreationists and increase potential revenues for the town.

The plan also dives into the possibility of providing a space for small pop-up retail shops and restaurants along the shoreline that can match seasonal changes, along with generating additional revenue for the town.

Service area upgrades include relocating the service building to the east of the marina to consolidate staff and service uses in one area, and constructing a new multipurpose building — which would include rentals, a marina store, a restaurant, event space and more — at the previous location near the center of the marina. The plan also calls for a new service launch ramp meant to reduce congestion and further separate official marina activities from the general public.

The conceptual design of the Dillon Marina included in the Waterfront Master Plan.
Courtesy town of Dillon via MSA Professional Services

Public area upgrades include a new multi-level underground parking structure to connect the town core with the marina, along with other efforts to improve access, such as realigning Marina Drive and enlarging the turnaround at the boat launch.

Finally, the marina improvements section of the plan calls for restorations on both ends of the shorelines, including the construction of retaining walls and a new handrail system in pedestrian areas.

While council members unanimously agreed to push forward with the waterfront plan, there was considerably more resistance to town core designs.

The plan outlines the establishment of a pedestrian-friendly space at the east end of Village Place, between the Lake Dillon Preschool and Gold Mine Thrift, complete with outdoor furniture, lighting and tables to help reinvigorate the space. To the west, the plan would remove a parking lot and create a new gateway at the intersection of Lake Dillon Drive and Village Place, which would open up into a small park in the center of town with green space, patio areas and even an ice rink in the winter. The park could potentially be expanded with the removal of the Payne Building at 119 La Bonte.

The plan also calls for the further extension of pedestrian corridors in the area, which would extend north from Schroeder Avenue to the Dillon Town Park, and from the east end of Village Place to La Bonte Street where pedestrians could access the waterfront. Of note, much of the core would be redesigned under a “woonerf” concept, which is essentially meant to provide better pedestrian access through traffic calming measures, different colored pavements and more.

Finally, the plan outlines continued woonerf designs along Fiedler Avenue and in the parking lot between Sail Lofts and La Riva to complete the pedestrian corridor.

The conceptual design included in the Town Core Master Plan.
Courtesy town of Dillon via MSA Professional Services

While the plan was ultimately adopted, some council members raised concerns about a lack of town control in the designs and moving forward while question marks remain.

“(MSA) was doing our marina plan, and everybody said we should have them do our town plan,” said Council Member Jen Barchers, who voted no on the plan. “It’s not up to par, it’s not as good as it could be, so we don’t need to adopt it.  … This is not something I would be proud to go to the public with. … Basically they took what we said, and they just drew it and added all this stuff with the Payne building.

“I want someone who is going to come in and say ‘no, I’ve got some fresh ideas.’ They didn’t give us anything super creative, super outstanding or super awesome. So why work with it and tweak it later when we could have a better plan?”

Council Member Kyle Hendricks, another dissenter, said there were just too many unknowns.

“It seems like there are some unanswered questions, or too many possibilities that could change or go in different directions than expected,” Hendricks said. “… If it isn’t the exact plan we want, why approve it just to manipulate it into what we want it to be? Why not just (reject) it and keep looking?”

But other council members felt more comfortable with the plan as a larger vision, and the idea of making adjustments as they come up.

“Things are going to change,” said Council Member Karen Kaminski. “It’s not like we’re sticking a shovel in the ground tomorrow and doing exactly what they said. … It’s the best concept we’ve had to get to where we want to be to have walkability and pathways, and the connections and vision of what the town is going to look like.”

“It encompasses a lot of elements that are great,” added Mayor Carolyn Skowyra. “A lot of elements may not be achievable today, but ultimately could be something in the future that may be something we can work towards. … And I think it would be a great plan to work towards.”