Dillon paves way for a more walkable town core

Dillon Town Hall is pictured Jan. 21. Dillon Town Manager, Nathan Johnson deems the current town core as the area surrounding Dillon Town Hall along Lake Dillon Drive — from Buffalo Street down to La Bonte Street. In the future, Johnson — along with other Dillon town officials — hope to improve the town core by adding more sidewalks, landscaping, parking mitigation and embracing the natural beauty of Dillon.
Photo by Sawyer D’Argonne /

Dillon Mayor Carolyn Skowyra said the town of Dillon has always been “on the move” — sometimes literally, as the town itself has shifted multiple times since its founding over 100 years ago. 

This has led to an ever-changing town layout that’s left fewer opportunities to walk, play or otherwise spend time without needing transportation than other towns in Summit County. A discussion unfolded recently at a Dillon Town Council meeting about how to change that.

“Our Town Council is very committed to looking at redevelopment opportunities in the downtown core,” Dillon Town Manager Nathan Johnson said. “One of the things that they’ve identified is just overall redevelopment and making it more of a pedestrian-friendly, user-friendly area that has a vibrancy of shops and restaurants.”

Johnson defines the current town core as the area surrounding Dillon Town Hall along Lake Dillon Drive from Buffalo Street down to LaBonte Street. 

“What (Dillon Town Council) is really honing in on is mixed use,” Johnson said. “We need density in the town core to make these businesses work — restaurants, retail, office space, you name it.” 

Skowyra said Dillon’s development during the 1960s and 1970s heavily influenced Dillon’s layout today. 

“The primary concern was automotive traffic — where you’re going to put cars and how much room they need,” Skowyra explained. “So really, when you pull into Dillon, you have these big, wide, open streets, and what I mean by walkable is we’re going to try to focus on the human beings’ interaction with our community.”

Both Johnson and Skowyra envision a more vibrant future for Dillon and its core. 

Skowyra specifically talked about the town core becoming a “self-contained unit.” She envisions an area where people can go to the supermarket, access child care and visit a restaurant on foot. 

Skowrya added that Dillon already has many amenities to offer — the Dillon Amphitheater, the marina, ice skating and disc golf. However, she did say that Dillon’s shops and restaurants may leave some folks wanting more. 

As of now, Johnson has a few ideas of how to increase vibrancy and walkability. The first is to increase density, which Johnson has already brainstormed.

“The first floor is your restaurant retail space, maybe the second floor is an office and then third, fourth (floors) are housing units — things like that to make it more vibrant, to make it more of a destination for businesses, but then also for people to come and visit,” Johnson said. 

The second is to create more pedestrian-friendly corridors, which could include landscaping, better lighting and an emphasis on the Dillon Reservoir’s natural vistas. 

Next are sidewalks — building more, making them wider so multiple people can enjoy them at once and, Skowyra added, placing them where they’re most needed.

“What we’re looking at is — where are the footpaths going and where are people actually walking that they need some sort of surface to improve their experience?” Skowyra said.  

Lastly, Johnson said parking will have to be examined if the town core project moves forward. Even with the density Dillon has now, Johnson said parking is a challenge when big events like amphitheater concerts take place. 

The goal is also to make Dillon a place where folks can park their car and spend the whole day. 

“Not only from the residence standpoint but also from the guest experience — we want to make this a win-win for everybody involved,” Johnson said about parking.  

While many town officials are excited about these potential developments, Johnson said they are at the “very infant stages” of the town core concept. It’s still an idea, “and concept of what could potentially happen,” Johnson said.

So far though, the town has taken action to kick-start the possibility. Johnson said they’ve hired an external company based in Fort Collins, Clark & Enerson, to conduct a walkability study on the area. 

Following the study, Johnson said Clark & Enerson will develop a concept for potential construction. Johnson added that if approved, the Town Council will most likely submit a bid in the spring, with construction falling some time in fall 2023. 

“What we’re trying to envision and create is a sense of place where you can be at the Town Park but then you can walk down to the Marina Park, the amphitheater, the lakefront, the marina — really just creating that a place where you want to be all day,” Johnson said.

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