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Vision work group reports to BoCC

Archuleta County currently has no unique, identifying characteristic on which to build a vision for the future, according to the findings of the Archuleta Community Vision Work Group.

This finding, along with others, was presented to the Board of County Commissioners by Patsy Lindblad, team leader of the work group, at an Oct. 14 work session.

The group, self-made, approached the BoCC in April of 2009 and was subsequently charged in May with the task of looking at existing documentation to see if there is currently a vision that can be followed.

The work group comprises Lindblad, Rick Bellis, Thaddeus Cano, Paula Craig, Larry Fisher, Leanna Goebel, Wen Saunders, Cindy Schultz and Bill Weiland.

While no new surveys or studies were completed, the group looked back at 41 documents — nine years’ worth — including studies, reports, plans and surveys, to determine if a vision currently exists that the county can use as a guide.

The group found that there are “vision elements” that people in the community want, but that these are characteristics of any small town and are not unique to Archuleta County.

The findings expressed that values held are those of “mom and apple pie,” meaning many value the beauty of the area, the small-town atmosphere, the diversity of the community and the sense of community — the same as many other small towns, Lindblad said.

“That sets the scene for the kind of vision elements that we were able to draw out,” Lindblad said.

The studies presented a strong focus on desire for infrastructure and the availability of basic services — including health care, affordable housing, emergency services, education, transportation and more.

The ability to make a living also placed high on the list of findings.

“One of the most important things to the workers of the community is that they don’t have to work two or three jobs. They want to thrive, not survive,” Lindblad said.

Economic growth and development of the community was also a strong focus.

“We see ourselves as still continuing with tourism as a main focus in the future,” Lindblad said.

Though tourism would be a main focus, it was expressed that the community needs to expand and diversify to include indoor activities during times of inclement weather, as well as evening activities.

Also considered for economic growth are areas the work group considers to be untapped potential — outdoor recreation training, arts and culture, developing an export market and collaborating with, not competing with, nearby communities.

Areas that are beginning to grow, but that should be helped along, are eco-friendly businesses and entrepreneurs, Lindblad said.

Commissioner Bob Moomaw noted that many of the issues brought up, such as transportation, are currently being worked on, but some have not been touched yet.

The work group stressed that there is no need to start over completely in designing a community vision, but that existing documents and studies need to be used and transformed.

A basis for a community vision plan exists with the Town of Pagosa Springs’ Comprehensive Plan and the Region Nine 2008 Strategy, said Lindblad.

According to the work group, the next step is to conduct an analysis of the current situation of the community, including looking at SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental, political) factors to ensure that the plan is based in the reality of the community.

Discussions about moving forward led members of the BoCC to state that they would like continued guidance in moving forward with a plan, and that the work group should not be dissolved at this point.

“I’m going to need you guys and your input and suggestions. I think all of us are willing to move forward,” said Commissioner John Ranson.

While not dissolving, the group’s role in the planning is not solidified. Lindblad, as well as other members of the group, stressed the need for new people to join the work group.

“The key that this group agreed on is that continually getting new blood gives you new information and new vision,” Lindblad said, adding soon after, “That’s probably been the biggest frustration as a community — we’ve been too singular-minded and we never blend anything together. We need more meeting of the minds, basically.”

Another work session with the work group and the BoCC is scheduled for Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. in the BoCC meeting room to determine the next steps in the process and what role the work group will take.