During Monday’s CDC meeting with select members of the community at the Ross Aragon Community Center, CDC Executive Director Steve Vassallo presented results from a two-week long community assessment. As part of his presentation, Vassallo reported what he thought were weaknesses and strengths in the town and county, those lists built on information taken from 105 interviews with local residents and community leaders (these are not listed in order of importance):
Top Ten Community Weaknesses
• The limited job opportunities especially in the area of higher paying jobs in excess of $20 per hour.
• The decline of the school district’s enrollment, a drop of nearly 10 percent from a high five years ago.
• The resulting level (amount) of sales leakage is creating a financial drain on the community.
• Funding for economic development initiative due to a lack of direct sales tax injection.
• Post secondary education options.
• The negative perception of the impact of special fees mandated by PAWSD.
• Economic Trend: nine years ago, 39 percent of K-12 students received free or reduced lunches. Today, that number is 50 percent.
• The number of homes and land listings actively on the market (currently there is a four year inventory).
• The difficulty in getting to our destination, especially highway travel from Albuquerque/Santa Fe. Also, the proximity to a major airport.
Top Ten Community Strengths
• The far-reaching natural beauty of the area and the abundance of fish and wildlife.
•The abundance of brilliant people (human capital) who have located here.
• The wide range of hotel/motel properties to accommodate tourists and, in addition, the parks that are available to the public.
• The proactive spirit of the community, i.e. wanting to get involved and make a difference.
• The uniqueness of the town and its aesthetically pleasing look.
• The hot springs.
• The economic potential due to available sites and a steady stream of new visitors.
• The Parelli company.
• The relatively safe nature of the community, void of serious crime.
• The airport facility at Stevens Field.
(Source — Pagosa Springs CDC