Historic Preservation Board seeking public input on future of Water Works building

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

The Town of Pagosa Springs is seeking input on what should be done with the town’s only public historic site, the Water Works site near U.S. 160 and 1st Street.
To help determine the future use or uses of the site, the town’s Historic Preservation Board is slated to host a series of three design vision exercises to help garner ideas, with the first set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 5 in the Ross Aragon Community Center.
The design vision exercises are the next step in a planning and repurposing process for the site that dates back to 2016.
The site includes the historic Water Works building and tanks, as well as an older stone arch bridge known as the Rumbaugh Creek bridge, which have all seen restoration work in recent years thanks to grant funding received by the town.
“The Water Plant in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, was built in 1938 as one of the projects built under the auspices of the federal New Deal’s Works Progress Administration,” a historic assessment of the site notes. “The rustic stone building and its three associated water-settling tanks, which cost $4,630.00, provided domestic water to the residents of the town from the San Juan River.”
The assessment further explains that water flowed into the first settling tank, where dirt settled on the floor and clear water flowed over the gaps in the tops of the walls to the second and third tanks.
It continues to explain the water was pumped from the third tank through the Water Works building, to a pipeline to a water tower on the west side of town, where it was gravity-fed through pipes into homes and businesses.
It is unknown when the building stopped being used to treat water, though it is believed it was used until the 1960s, Senior Planner Cindy Schultz told The SUN.
“What should be done with the wall? Or the stone arch bridge? Or the structure? What would make your kids want to visit here? What do they want to see? What would make this a cool place to visit? This is your public historic site, help us make your wishes reality,” a town press release states.
The second of the design vision events is slated for the same time and place on Feb. 19, with the third following on March 4.
The press release notes the site is also slated to eventually host the Riverwalk trail connection from Cotton Hole to the River Center area east of the river.
“We hope you will attend and take part in creating this vision for this place that you will feel connected to and cherish into the future. Make history now,” the press release states.

This story was posted on January 29, 2020.