The city of Cortez has announced a plan to compensate businesses that improve the look of their landscaping or storefront look this year.
The Parks and Recreation Department has promised Cortez businesses a 50 percent reimbursement for any beautification project they undertake this year, as long as they turn in their invoices by Sept. 30.
Funded by the department’s parks maintenance budget, the Cortez Business Beautification Incentive Project offers a $500 maximum reimbursement per business, and requires that all materials for the improvements be purchased in Montezuma County. The parks department has budgeted about $4,000 for the program.
Last year, the city tried to establish a similar program. It failed because of a lack of response from local businesses, so Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist hopes for a better turnout this time around.
“It’s part of the city’s whole beautification efforts, to make the Main Street business corridor areas look more attractive as people come into the city,” he said.
Although his department plans to advertise the idea heavily to businesses on or near Main Street, Palmquist said it’s open to any business within the city limits. Beautification projects as small as putting a few flower pots in a window, or as large as a major landscaping overhaul, are all eligible for reimbursement.
There are a few restrictions, though. According to a news release from special events coordinator Jonathon Brooks, all beautification projects must comply with the city’s land-use code in order to be considered, and businesses in the process of submitting a land-use or development permit to the city are not eligible for reimbursement. Business owners who want to take advantage of the program are also required to turn in an application to the Parks and Recreation Department, including the estimated cost of their project.
The project differs in some ways from last year’s Commercial Landscape Incentive Program, which focused specifically on businesses along U.S. Highway 160, Colorado Highway 145 and U.S. Highway 491, but didn’t get a response from store owners. That program offered a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 and required applicants to submit a detailed landscape design, materials list and long-term maintenance plan in order to receive funds from the city. The application for this year’s project is simpler, although eligible business owners won’t get as much money in return.
Palmquist said the city will work to get more businesses involved in the project, but because the parks department has a limited budget, it would need to request more funding if there’s a big demand for the program.
“It’d be nice if we could get eight or 10 businesses,” Palmquist said. “We have it in our budget to do that.”