It takes time to see it


We hear it often: “Nothing ever gets done in Pagosa.”

Our response is: “Have you asked someone over 40 who was born and raised here if nothing ever gets done?”

The complaint loses traction when perspective deepens; go back 25 years or so to determine if anything has “happened.” What you’ll find is that a great deal gets done in Pagosa — some of it agreeable, some not.

Do you remember that Pagosa Springs was once sanctioned by the EPA for PM-10 air pollution violations? Do you recall that, 25 years ago, most town streets were unpaved? They’re paved now, and the EPA went home.

Remember the old Town Hall? Do you remember where the library was once located, in the back rooms of the Town Hall at San Juan and 5th streets? A new Town Hall was built on Hot Springs Boulevard. A new library was built on 8th Street.

Also in that ramshackle old Town Hall: a garage that housed the town’s fire truck — a truck manned exclusively by volunteers. Now, we have a fire protection district, staffed in part by professionals, with many stations and a fleet of equipment protecting most of the residential areas in the area.

Do you remember what the courthouse looked like before the county complied with a federal court consent decree and built a new jail?

Do you recall where the two physicians had their offices? In ramshackle downtown buildings — one on North 8th Street, the other across the river from Town Park?

Pagosa Country now has a hospital with surgical capability, an emergency room, a lab and an adjacent clinic, and it is growing. The facility provides Pagosans services tendered by many physicians and specialists. Where once the Mounted Rangers delivered sick and injured Pagosans to a Durango hospital, we now rely on a highly-skilled, professional EMS service, able to deal with any situation.

What about infrastructure, aside from paved streets in town?

Do you recall the steel bridge that spanned the San Juan on what was then Light Plant Road? No? Perhaps you are used to driving over the bridge on what is now Hot Springs Boulevard, then heading down the reconstructed street to a post office that replaced one at 4th and Lewis streets. You drive down Hot Springs Boulevard and you arrive at the community center. It was not there 25 years ago and if you continue over the relatively new bridge on Apache Street and turn left on 8th Street you are at a high school that was not here until the late ’90s.

Ever stroll the path between the two footbridges that span the San Juan downtown? It didn’t exist 25 years ago. Neither did the bridges. Neither did the streetlights on U.S. 160, nor the streetscape improvements on Lewis Street — on a reconstructed Lewis Street. Or the trail system on Reservoir Hill.

No business improvements, you say?

Ever check out the old Spring Inn? If you did, you can compare it to the large hotel complex that now sits on the site. While you’re at it, examine the bathhouse and pools. Check out the restaurants and businesses that moved to the east end of Pagosa Street. Check out the Aspen Village complex, the Pagosa Country Center, the lodging establishments in the corridor, the business developments on highway frontage roads. Take time to walk in Centennial Park or use the facilities at South Pagosa or Yamaguchi parks. Imagine taking a drive 25 years ago and seeing none of these things. And these are but a few things that “got done.”

Nothing ever gets done in Pagosa?

It does. And it will. It takes time to see it.

Karl Isberg