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Sometimes a good idea comes along, but at the wrong time. Such was the case back in 2004 with the idea of a town recreation center. At the time, people embraced the concept, but town was not in a financial position to pursue it.
Can we take a fresh look? Is now the right time? Much work has already been done that has not been lost.
The town is also in a very different place.
The town has more than a year’s worth of operating budget in reserves. Interest rates are low. The land where the sewage treatment plant sits along the San Juan River will be reclaimed once the sewer line to PAWSD is completed. This land could be sold, traded or even used for the recreation center itself. The County still has a deed-restricted five acres across from the Ross Aragon Community Center that would be the ideal location with the acquisition via purchase or exchange of a bit more vacant land. There are many possibilities that could be explored to revive and re-energize this community recreation center project.
With the recent town and community rifts and disagreements, it is time for healing and a new approach — an approach that will bring us back together as a community.
The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (CDC) is happy to support the exploration of this project that the community and town can both potentially embrace. We do need a new approach to big community initiatives that wins broad-based support in the early, exploration phases. Together with the Friends of Reservoir Hill and the Town of Pagosa Springs, I think we have the opportunity lead by example here.
I really believe that the CDC can play the role of facilitator—bringing people together in a loosely structured way to get input, support and volunteers — similar to what we did with Downtown Colorado Inc. and the “Imagine Downtown” follow through initiatives which are making steady headway. Neither the CDC nor the “Friends” have a big budget or staff, so our success can only be through community engagement and support. I think we are the right groups to facilitate this community conversation.
I believe that the parks and recreation systems represent a woven fabric that connects our community. The fabric of parks and recreation is also woven into economic value and provides a substantial return on investment for the community in the form of increased property tax, retention of our youth, tourism, health care savings and the by attracting entrepreneurs and others from outside, drawn to our active lifestyle and recreation amenities — all consistent with the mission of the CDC. I believe we need a project that is not designed just for tourists, but to provide a better quality of life and health for our citizens. This is true community development. Together, I believe we can create the future we desire.