Envisioning the future: Water Works vision process continues

2020/03/Single-Tank-Enclosure-Opt-A-300x166.jpg Illustration courtesy Town of Pagosa Springs, Reynolds Ash + Associates

By Randi Pierce

Staff Writer

The Town of Pagosa Springs and the town’s Historic Preservation Board continue to seek input on what should be done with the town’s only public historic landmark, 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 hosting a series of three design vision exercises to help garner ideas, with one remaining. That gathering is set for 5 to 7 p.m. on March 4 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.

2020/03/wwIMG_8108-300x180.jpg SUN photo/Randi Pierce
The Feb. 19 gathering concerning the historic Water Works structure featured several ideas and renderings for how the site could be adapted and used in the future, with Senior Planner Cindy Schultz moderating the event. The design vision process for the site will continue on March 4.

The previous design vision gatherings have focused on ideas of what should be at that site in the future to make it a place for the community, as well as different values and components that should be taken into account in planning the future adaptive reuse of the site.

Those values discussed on Feb. 19 were:

• Protection of site/structure.

• Protection of the investment (fiscal).

• Protection and public safety.

• Serving broad public interests.

• Serving many diverse interests.

• Accessibility of the public site — compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

• Making the site open and available to the public.

Types of elements and features discussed for the site at the meetings, as well as in earlier discussions about the site, include interpretive signage, a water wheel replica, a garden, public restrooms, a live performance venue and more.

Types of forms discussed include adding a second story, protecting the site from the elements with a roof, creating a structure within the holding tanks, creating a structure around the tanks, keeping the site as it is and others.

Types of uses that have been discussed are an expanded museum, youth education site, recreation site, a cultural center, a gathering and event center and more.

Senior Planner Cindy Schultz indicated the March 4 meeting will continue to discuss the values, elements and features, forms and uses the public would like to see at the site to help narrow down the vision.

“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,” a January press release states.

About the site

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, Schultz previously told The SUN.

The site is also slated to eventually host the Riverwalk trail connection from Cotton Hole to the River Center area east of the river, which is anticipated to include a pedestrian bridge.