Idaho Springs’ Miner Street Market will look much like last year’s, as the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing communal outdoor dining areas, called CODAs, at its April 25 meeting.
The marketplace, which will close three blocks of Miner Street to all vehicle traffic, will host a variety of regular and special events throughout the summer and early fall. Music nights will return on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the cornhole league is moving to Friday nights this year, event organizers said.
City Planner Jerad Chipman explained how state statutes allowing municipalities to have encroachment areas for outdoor dining and so forth will expire this month. If Idaho Springs wants to maintain its downtown summer programming, establishing CODAs are the best option, he told City Council.
To establish one, at least two liquor-license-holding businesses must participate, and there must be a security and control plan, Chipman explained.
All downtown liquor-license holders want CODAs and plan on participating, he said.
While staff and marketplace organizers anticipate having roped off seating sections for the bulk of the summer, they also described having larger areas for special events.
For the music nights and cornhole league, a CODA would extend the entire block in front of the hosting establishment. For instance, if Westbound & Down hosts cornhole, people could take their marked alcoholic drinks up and down Miner Street’s 1600 block, they described. There would be plenty of signage and monitoring to ensure alcohol didn’t leave that area.
These smaller, weekly events will serve as a trial run for the Fourth of July, where organizers have proposed allowing a CODA that encompasses the three closed-off blocks of Miner Street, Citizens Park and the Idahoe Mall.
Cups will be marked, there will be extra signage, and the police department will have extra security to ensure people don’t take alcohol outside of the posted area.
Police Chief Nate Buseck described how security personnel encountered some people trying to take their drinks outside the boundaries last Fourth of July, but there weren’t any major incidents. Thus, while he understood concerns about controlling such a large area, he believed city staff and the business community would be prepared to control it.
Jonathan Cain, assistant city administrator, said doing a CODA encompassing most of downtown for the Fourth of July could be a trial run for future large-scale events.
“The business community is invested in finding solutions before we see the problems and addressing them as they occur. All the businesses interact regularly and will hold each other accountable,” commented Sadie Schultz, a downtown business owner and one of the marketplace organizers.
Returning, new events
During an April 18 City Council work session, Schultz described how the market will run from May through Halloween this year. After Halloween, it should reopen to at least one-way vehicle traffic, she recommended.
Events throughout the late spring, summer and early fall will include: the Clear Creek High School graduation parade, the burro race on Memorial Day weekend, the 9/11 memorial and a Halloween trick-or-treating event. One or more Rail Jams — where skating enthusiasts raise money and awareness for a new local skate park — also is in the works.
Schultz also said the marketplace will host a monthly Family Day on a Saturday or Sunday. The event will be targeted toward local families and include face-painting, sidewalk chalk, burro rides and more.
The pedicabs are returning this year, she added, along with the Fourth of July shuttle service.
Schultz asked whether City Council wanted historical reenactment group The Wild Bunch to return as well. Last year, the group hosted a few shows each month and received mixed feedback, Schultz described.
She recommended having more signage or a loudspeaker announcement beforehand, so people aren’t startled or scared when they hear the pop-guns.
For the Fourth of July, Schultz said event organizers don’t want non-local food or beer vendors in Citizens Park, so visitors can patronize downtown businesses and then walk around the area freely.
City officials discussed allowing local businesses without a downtown storefront to participate in the market throughout the summer and/or during the Fourth of July event specifically.
“It could help those businesses from other parts of the town get more exposure,” Council Member Lisa Manifold said.
Schultz said she’s talked to some already, but they’re concerned about having enough staff to host a vendor’s booth. So, those conversations are ongoing.
While the Fourth of July fireworks show will depend on conditions, Schultz said there will be plenty of activities regardless. Even without fireworks last year, downtown was probably the busiest she’s ever seen it.
She said the Miner Street Market overall has received a lot of notoriety from travel blogs and has been featured in several YouTube videos. She believes the market has been and will continue to be a success for downtown and the whole city.
“We know our sales tax has been up since COVID, primarily because of the marketplace. It’s the home and heart of our community,” Cain added. “That’s what we want Miner Street to be.”