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This is in no way intended to be a debate with the Community Development Corporation or about the proposed Recreation Center. It is intended to lend a bit of perspective to the process.
Several recent CDC missives promote specific developments and then seem to blame certain unnamed and seemingly sinister “barriers against progress” for lack of support. Pagosans are chided for being leery of progress and change. Well, some of us have been there and done that. We did progress and we did change and we found it is not always a good thing.
The last of the log mills closed during the late 1970s. Over one quarter of the local population was directly dependent on this industry. It was a big slam and the community slumped. Tourism was about all the area had left to live on. During the 1980’s community leaders came together and decided to start working toward an improved town and area. We did a good job with both civic and business development. Pagosa progressed and changed in this process and, while we created the Pagosa we liked, we also created the Pagosa everyone seemed to like and the tourists stopped leaving.
An old Pagosa saying was, “The happiest view for a Pagosan is a Texan heading east with an Okie under each arm.”
We had a new and fairly wealthy social class move in along with a new service class to build their homes and service their needs. The population growth was amazing and overwhelming during the 1990s. At times it seemed like an invasion. It brought its own artificial economy and new business space developed and new homes dotted formally empty landscapes. The area hummed to the tune of dozers and hammers and locals flinched with each new building permit. We overbuilt on this artificial economy to a level the tourism economy cannot support alone. Then the boom ended with a worldwide economic downturn.
The boom years were good for most Pagosans, but there were also negatives. There have been many painful cultural and social shifts within the natives and old-timers. Lives have been altered in ways many Pagosans would never have dreamed of or wanted. The “boomers” do not seem to recognize or relate to these changes and affronts to the underlying Pagosa Springs’ society and culture. Many citizens still mourn for the old Pagosa Springs. In many ways, it has been lost forever.
To think we can keep up the frenzied pace of the 90’s is unrealistic. It may never come back. Unfortunately, that is the only Pagosa Springs many boomers are aware of. The slump has been painful for all, but it has been a well-deserved rest for the long term residents. It’s been a time of healing and evolving into something new, but hopefully, with a glimmer of the real Pagosa Springs in it.
Casting aspersions is not a winner. It may be time to cut Pagosans a break.