Dillon officials get first look at proposed town core, marina master plans

DILLON — Dillon officials got their first look at updates to the town center and waterfront master plans during a presentation Tuesday that detailed some potentially major changes to both areas.

The town entered into an agreement with MSA Professional Services to develop an update to Dillon’s Connectivity Plan for the town center along with the Waterfront Master Plan. MSA project managers Dan Williams and Bruce Lunde walked officials through their most recent proposals.

The town core plan largely revolves around removing a parking lot in the center of town — currently sandwiched between Lake Dillon Preschool and Pug Ryan’s Brewery on Village Place — and creating a new green area for residents and visitors to gather.

“People wanted the introduction of a green, usable space that would draw people into the town center and keep them for a more extended period,” Williams said. “… We’re looking at that space and how it could become the centerpiece of connectivity through town.”

The proposed park is less than an acre in size, though Williams noted the potential for expansion if the Payne Building at 119 La Bonte ever were to be replaced. In lieu of the parking lot, MSA pitched everything from a simple redesign with lights and tables, to a more involved development of the site, including a splash pad and more seasonal activations like a skating rink.

Among other possible improvements like a featured gateway at Village Place, MSA presented “woonerf” concepts throughout the area, essentially shared street designs, maybe even with colored pavement, that help to slow traffic and incentivize pedestrian activity — one of the key goals of the plan.

“These first couple stages of transition start to create an east-west connection from the Dillon Marina all the way up to Lake Dillon Drive,” Williams said. “… You can also easily make a north-south connection from the Dillon Town Park down to the amphitheater.”

Of note, if the Payne Building is eventually removed, Williams said there is the potential for a parking structure built underneath a section of the park, opening up more opportunities in the area for new retail buildings on the side.

A conceptual rendering of proposed upgrades to the Dillon town core.
MSA Professional Services via Dillon

With the exception of parts of the plan relying on removal of the building, the Dillon Town Council largely responded positively to the new ideas.

“This is a puzzle that you have put together with a variety of constraints and observations, and a wish list we put on you,” council member Brad Bailey said. “We’ve been struggling for some time now on how to develop the downtown core. We’re always looking from the outside in … but this flips that and makes it much easier to comprehend and visualize, finding the central location first and letting things develop naturally without the constraints of having to always think about what’s in the middle.”

MSA associates also highlighted proposals for the Dillon Marina, broken into four main project areas: waterfront and wave attenuator, service area upgrades, public area upgrades and general marina improvements.

The group proposed extending and moving the wave attenuator from the east side of the launch ramp to the west side, which would help protect the launch ramp and visitors during windy days, and create opportunities for additional boat slips. Lunde also pitched creating a space for “pop-up” stores and to provide more convenient ADA accessible walkways to upland areas.

In regard to the service and public areas, Lunde proposed moving the existing service building from the center to the far east end of the marina, a move he said would improve not only operations for staff, but also serve to separate individuals needing boat work from more casual visitors looking to get to the water. Other improvements could include some sort of parking structure, the realigning of roadways and a multipurpose building — including restrooms, kitchen facilities, rental facilities and more.

Lunde also outlined proposed improvements including shoreline restorations, underground storage tanks, fuel dock expansions, dock upgrades and an emergency service road.

MSA is expected to take council’s notes and return to the town to present final concepts in January.

“I personally am very impressed with what you’ve put together,” Mayor Carolyn Skowyra said. “It’s very cool to see what the council was talking about last summer come to fruition and look like a real thing.”