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Letters to Editor

Lease

Dear Editor,

Whether you favor the lease agreement between Archuleta County and The Pavilion or not, I encourage you to send your opinions/ideas to the commissioners. I sent the following:

I am skeptical about this deal for three reasons: First, the conflict of interest at the start between Bob Moomaw — at the time, a sitting commissioner — and his wife, who runs the Pavilion non-profit; second, the lack of transparency in the process of putting the deal together; and, third, the false sense of urgency to get this deal done before proper due diligence. If this deal has merits, the commissioners should welcome the light of day and be willing to take adequate time to ensure that this is a good deal for the taxpayers. Here are some additional concerns:

The lease conflicts with other economic development efforts — FolkWest with its proven track record of bringing both money and tourists to the community. Second, Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts (PSCA), with the huge personal investment that its founders Laura and Tim Moore have made in this community, based on a business model that did not include the county subsidizing a competing nonprofit.

There are unexamined opportunity costs — the property may not be salable at the present, but this lease will preclude other uses until the end of 2016 — 2021, if the county does not get an offer from another buyer. In addition, the county cannot use the land for a courthouse or other legitimate county purpose.

Unexamined alternatives — why not agree to lease the land for specific periods of time according to set lease provisions to any organization that has a need and can demonstrate value to the community — a right which has been conveyed to Pavilion in the draft contract. This would ensure no competing events in town at the same time and allows FolkWest to use it as well. This has none of the downsides of the lease.

“Economic development” is an expansive goal, so we need objective criteria to evaluate any investments that the county makes to ensure a good return on that investment. What criteria were considered in concluding this was the best deal?

Business plan and data — this should be requested to demonstrate how the lease provides value to the community and to give the taxpayers reasonable assurance of a good return. Do we have data that shows this would indeed bring tourists in?

A more significant commitment should be requested from Pavilion — more than one event should be required! Qualitative contract criteria should be included to ensure that the community actually benefits from the events. Presumably, since the county owns the land, the Pavilion would not even pay property taxes during the lease.

In conclusion, I don’t believe this is a good deal for the county as currently structured. I believe it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers and other competing businesses for you to take adequate time to analyze the cost/benefit before a decision is made.

Sincerely,

Muriel Eason

Lease two

Dear Editor,

Per Commissioner Whiting’s request (of all of us), I am writing a response to the lease agreement between Archuleta County and The Pavilion. Before the meeting, I felt that this lease was (is) a poor idea and would not benefit the county as a whole. I support enhancing the arts and am for any event that will bring in revenue. However, this should not be done at the expense of, or to the exclusion of, anyone else in the county.

Case in point — the owners of the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts (Center). This may or may not be in direct conflict of their business, however, this lease will give another party a distinct advantage over a business owner who is trying to get established after investing a large amount of money in our community. We need to be promoting, and not hindering, entrepreneurs who are trying to bring in a steady source of employment, business and tax monies into the community. Allowing a basically “do nothing” lease and tying up property that may or may not sell during a ten-year period is, in my opinion, not in the best overall interests of the county. Even if the property were not up for sale, Judge Denvir, brought up an excellent point about the property. It would then not be in consideration for the new county courthouse which I feel needs to be in the heart of the community.

The Art Center has to comply with building codes, which seem to be creating endless additions and expense. Use of tents and port-a-potties for ten years gives a distinct monetary advantage to the Pavilion group. The lease would then exclude the use of this property for the Folk Fest, another venue which brings in revenue.

If the county continues to pursue this lease, it should be at fair market value; require more than one concert by Nov. 2011; require a permanent structure by a certain time; place the lease off of U.S. 84 or set up leases on as-needed basis at fair market value.

Our community, like many others, is or will be in a financial bind, and we need to generate new businesses and steady income.

I do attend many BoCC meetings, and have never seen such a crowd except for gravel pit items and electric substations, items that were published way in advance and considered public meetings. If the word had not gotten out — an item like this — would probably not have raised any red flags. Who knows. However, the point is there needs to be a way to be more forthcoming on any activities that affect us. I am sorry that some individuals vilified anyone associated with the Pavilion organization; however, people are angry that the “old boy” network is still alive and are expressing this anger albeit in an inappropriate way.

Please respond to the commissioners by Feb 8.

Teri Frazier

Lease three

Dear Editor:

As a longtime resident, member of Pagosa’s Music in the Mountains steering committee since its inception ten years ago, and on the organizing committee for this summer’s first-ever Songwriters Festival & Symposium, I write in support of the BoCC’s proposed Pavilion lease because of the economic and cultural benefits to our community:

With BootJack Ranch unavailable, we no longer have a venue large enough to host many Music in the Mountains concerts, especially orchestra events which are by far the local audience’s favorite. Pagosa classical music lovers now travel to Durango for such events, taking their restaurant dollars with them and depriving us of opportunities to raise scholarship money for our talented local music students.

A four-event Pagosa Springs Songwriters Festival & Symposium is planned for this July if we can find an appropriate venue. It will feature four of Nashville’s greatest singer-songwriters performing a unique blend of country, rock, pop, folk and Americana music. These musicians want to make Pagosa one of the premiere destinations on the Nashville circuit. Media and in-person promotion in the Four Corners and southern states will attract tourists who will spend money here, and perhaps also invest in second homes. To stimulate these economic benefits to our community’s businesses, a group of local supporters will travel to Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana at their own expense in April to “sell” Pagosa as a vacation destination and the Songwriters Festival as a go-to event. The Pavilion thus provides us a huge opportunity to showcase our great community and all its amenities — and to stimulate our economy.

With its 500-seat capacity, The Pavilion will be a versatile community resource for concerts and other events such as the Chamber’s annual Wine and Cheese Tasting. It will complement the high school auditorium and new Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts on Put Hill. Each has its own strengths and value to our community.

The experience and credibility of the volunteers involved in The Pavilion have already resulted in the donation of the tent for the property. Their impressive leadership and proven track records will result in a successful fund-raising campaign for both operating expenses and a permanent facility — all to benefit the residents and businesses of our community.

Government support for the arts is not unusual. In fact, it is a well-accepted method for cultural and economic development across the United States and around the world.

Our community badly needs such economic development. Just ask our downtown merchants and restaurant owners. Or look around at the many empty storefronts, and the multitude of “For Sale” signs on local homes and property.

The Pavilion proposal got off to an unfortunate start. The process was not what it should have been. But now is not the time to look backwards. Let’s agree to tone down the rhetoric, stick to the facts, and work together to make The Pavilion happen for the benefit of all our residents and businesses.

Carole Howard

Public broadcast

Dear Editor:

Public broadcast radio/TV needs your voice to congress now.

Congress will vote to cut public broadcast by 25 percent.

Let your congress hear from you — to vote no on any cuts for public broadcast.

Thank you,

Pam Morrow

Unfriendly

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to drop a quick email regarding some unfortunate feedback I’ve seen online regarding Pagosa. My husband and I live here year round again and were bummed to see that people are casting Pagosa as an unfriendly town to tourists. I think it’s important while some people may get frustrated with tourist from time to time, to remember they keep our local economy going! We’ve seen blogs and reviews of Wolf Creek and Pagosa as being unfriendly and rude to tourists. Perhaps you could get the word out there that we need people coming to visit to support us. We have a great little town here and let’s keep it that way. No one likes to visit a place where they are made to feel as an outcast. Small towns are all about hospitality.

Have a great day!

Thank you for your time,

Anne Price

Ski lift

Dear Editor,

I felt compelled to respond to Francine Morris’ letter to the editor regarding the ski lift at Reservoir Hill. I am a new resident to Pagosa Springs. My family has spent two generations in the ski industry in Colorado as competitors, coaches and ski area operators. My oldest brother now operates a marketing company that serves over 130 ski areas in North America. We have seen them all, so why would I care about a ski lift at Reservoir Hill?

Pagosa is a very unique community and reminds me of Winter Park/Grand County or Summit County 30 years ago. Neither Grand nor Summit County have developed a good sense of community as they grew and developed into the world class vacation and resort towns that now exist. The reason is mostly because their county and town leadership focused on destination, vacation and the second home industry and didn’t develop master growth plans that focused on community activities in central locations. Their youth sports and recreation programs are spread all over the county, which causes difficulty with parents having to get each child to their chosen activity. It isolates the local residents from each other limiting the sense of community for all types of activities. As such only a few sports and recreation programs are successful and the locals have less community with each other.

On the other hand, Steamboat Springs is a model for how a mountain resort should be developed. They have Howelson Hill just across the Yampa River off Main Street, just like Reservoir Hill. Yes, it has a world-class ski jumping facility, but it also has a ski lift for alpine ski training and recreation. They also have the ice arena, cross country trails and a half pipe located at Howelson Hill. In the summer, there are rodeo grounds, baseball fields, skate board park and aerial training facility among others at the same location. What is really special is the community center with offices, meeting rooms, weight and training facilities. The middle and high schools are located several miles away so when school is in session, they have school buses that deliver kids to Howelson Hill for their afternoon activities. Everything happens in one location so no matter what the activity, parents, children and community leaders are having fun and interacting with other Steamboat residents. The entire community looks out for the youth because they are all in one place with constant interaction and oversight. Ever wonder why Steamboat has developed the most Olympic athletes of any city in the U.S.?

Town Council, for the good of the Pagosa Springs youth, please keep moving forward with the ski lift at Reservoir Hill … but that is just the start!

Jamie Scholl