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Forging a valuable connection

With the ongoing controversy over a development plan for Reservoir Hill and an election coming to determine who makes the decision concerning proposed amenities on the Hill, it is easy to come to the conclusion that town government devotes all its time to this project.

And that town government is ineffective, with no vision of growth or consideration of the wider community.

This opinion is not true.

While furors over the Reservoir Hill proposal and the impending arrival of a Wal-Mart absorb the attention and energies of many residents of Pagosa Country, there is a danger an ongoing project of great value will be ignored.

The Town-to-Lakes Trail project.

This project, if completed, will connect parts of this community in two positive ways: the first geographic, the second, political or cultural, depending on how one looks at it.

Politically and/or culturally, the proposed Town-to-Lakes Trail project signals a healing of a wound. Twenty years ago, a wedge had been driven between the town and many residents of the Pagosa Lakes subdivisions and their representatives on the quasi-governmental Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association board. That wedge was sharpened during two bitter annexation situations and produced acrimony at an astounding level.

In the interim, both entities have worked to improve infrastructure of a variety of kinds for those whom they represent and have simultaneously and slowly removed the wedge.

Now, the entities are cooperating on what, if successful, will be one of the finest additions to the community in years, as well as one of the premier trail systems in the Southwest.

For a number of years, both entities have worked on trails within their bounded areas.

The town has worked on trails on Reservoir Hill as well as the Riverwalk, with plans ready to complete the Riverwalk system and to extend a trail to the elementary school.

The PLPOA has steadily constructed trails — on North Pagosa Boulevard, Lake Forest Circle, Park Avenue and Village Drive, with sidewalks on Talisman and Eaton drives. The PLPOA plans to continue, with connections made and more trails built. The board approved a $45,000 capital budget line item for a section of trail on Pinon Causeway to the intersection with U.S. 160. That point of the trail would connect with the town portion that would extend to the intersection from the east.

The town, for its part, is continuing to obtain easements and grant money to create a trail with U.S. 160 frontage, to extend from downtown to Pinon Causeway. The town and the PLPOA have a conceptual intent to then connect to the Village Drive trail.

Downtown, the trail would connect with the completed Riverwalk and with the trails on Reservoir Hill.

Such a system, if complete, and with further extensions in the Pagosa Lakes area, would provide a valuable amenity, allowing runners, walkers and bicyclists to move safely from the heavily populated areas in Pagosa Lakes downtown and back.

The plan, with added grant and economic participation by the county, shines as an example of what governmental and quasi-governmental entities can do to provide a strong and long-lasting foundation for concrete growth and economic development in Pagosa Country. Taxpayer and grant dollars, funds derived from property owner association assessments, can be used to create infrastructure owned by and used by the public. The funds are not used to support private business but rather to create an atmosphere that business owners and customers find desirable and individuals considering relocation see as an advantage, and to provide an amenity for everyone that suits the outdoor character of the area.

We salute those who are working to complete this project. It is worthy of praise and support.   Karl Isberg

This story was posted on February 14, 2013.