I have followed with interest the discussion about the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC). First of all, I must confess that I am not a fan of Community Development Corporations or their equivalents. The intentions are always noble and seemingly worthy of our support. Usually CDC’s devolve to becoming expensive self serving entities. The measure of success, job creation and money injected into the economy are accompanied with a lot of self aggrandizement and spurious accounting. Rarely is there a mention of how many jobs or worthy longstanding events were lost, often because of lack of support, bias, politics or indifference by a CDC.
Blessed with living amongst breathtaking natural beauty and an engaged community, many have embraced the risks inherent in starting a business or hosting an event here, and we are the better for it. Most did so without the help from the PSCDC. No existing business or event should be discriminated against or receive less support from PSCDC than is being offered to new businesses or events looking to come here. Otherwise we risk losing what we have. Some of these businesses provide a significant amount of revenue or national and international recognition to our community. These assets are: The Wolf Creek Ski Area, The Springs, Parelli, the Folk West concerts, Wyndham, Pagosa Brewery, the golf course and the active help of the Chamber of Commerce amongst others. The loss of any one of these would have a significant impact on our community and set us back years. These entities have convinced many individuals and businesses to move here. Much more than any CDC could dream of. There is a saying that a “prophet is merely a jerk in his own community.” We cannot afford to lose sight of the partners that brought us to the dance and ignore them as we pursue some new and usually false prophet or partner. Part of the PSCDC mission statement is to “work with existing businesses to maximize profitability.” My sense is that there has not been a whole lot of partnering going on. Bias has already crept into the events side, as only those events sponsored by the PSCDC are listed on their website. Since public money is involved, this is not fair on our existing events. On the business side, some of those businesses mentioned above have not been approached by PSCDC and worse, been snubbed by them. It might be said that Steve Vassallo is stirring things up, and this is a good thing. It is a fine line between stirring things up and mucking them up. Whether you support Steve Vassallo or not, to have become a lightning rod and alienated some existing businesses or event organizers and many in the community, is inexcusable in his position.
Businesses or events that move here will justify the move to their stakeholders based on economic incentives, labor availability and the quality of life. In the end we may not need a paid PSCDC executive director position, but rather a visible and codified set of parameters that clearly enunciate the incentives available and consistently apply them to new and, most importantly, existing businesses and events without bias. In the meantime this wonderful community will rally around to support the many worthy local events generated from grass roots efforts as it has always done, even golden retriever events, with or without the support, expense and attitude of the PSCDC.
We all could take a lesson from the Japanese people in their response to their earthquake. These people have a profound respect for others and for others’ property. You won’t see wild looting as we witnessed in Iraq after the war or indeed by our brethren after Katrina. It would be nice if other societies possessed the same values.
Is there anyone besides me who felt anger in DeVoti’s statement from last week’s SUN’s article, “School districts counter budget shortfall”? My concern is with regard to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Agreement (VSIA) and how it will enable the district to hire younger teachers with a stronger technology background. These hires would be an appropriate fit towards the district’s technology integration into education.
In my seven years working for the district, technological changes have happened, most of them good, but the changes are not all due to the hiring of younger teachers with a strong technology background. I see veteran teachers who have effectively adapted their curriculum with all the latest technology features. DeVoti’s statement is a sting for those teachers who do not have a technological background and are not young, but still use technology effectively. Not only that, but these veteran teachers are experienced in creating teacher/student relationships; shouldn’t that come first?
If corporations were truly persons, they would have a conscience.
A few comments regarding the PSCDC meeting on Monday 3/14/11.
My respect to Steve for stepping down; it was the right thing to do. I think the PSCDC board should follow suit, as truly this drama was a joint affair. Hopefully, each is looking in the mirror recognizing not only what mistakes were made, but also willing to commit to a much more professional process in the future. Playing the blame game isn’t cool and makes no difference anyway; the only thing that we really can change is the way we conduct ourselves; it starts from there, and there is a ripple effect. Leadership through example!
As we move forward, I would like to specifically request a few things. I hope/trust I am not alone.
1) If we want economic development in this town, then we have to support our local businesses. We can’t expect people to come and invest in our town, be they tourists, business owners, retirees, or second home owners as we locals take our business to Durango, Farmington or beyond. That includes town and county government. Staples (Farmington) gets our office supply and/or printing business, Denver photographers are used for local photo shoots, we see the hiring out of state Web designers and marketing gurus, etc. — none of this is honorable. If money is the issue, we should adjust accordingly the salary of the new PSCDC director, and not buy that new chunk of land so that local businesses can be supported by those who tout promoting local business and building our economy. Otherwise, it’s hypocritical.
2) Regarding the approved ad for PS; if we are going to promote ourselves as a “Sustainable and Green Community,” we better know what that means. It’s a big picture, not a small sliver, like simply geothermal resources. A green and sustainable community restricts growth and tightens building codes, they do not support speculative development, they put permanent moratoriums on big box, and they provide completed sidewalks, bike paths and recycling centers throughout their communities. These are the basics; people who come here will assume many of these items to be in place. We cannot call ourselves a sustainable community and support The Village at Wolf Creek, nor can we condone the increased use of ATVs, snowmobiles and motorhomes traipsing along our roads dumping trash and fumes along the way, if we advertise ourselves to be green and sustainable. We should also conduct our own business in a sustainable manner; open and honest communication, smart spending, exceptional treatment of employees, and long-term vision in our community planning. Most communities, big and small, have already implemented much of the above and folks everywhere are practicing the basics sustainable design and green living. Before we brand ourselves as such, we really should become better educated, not just jump on what we think is the good marketing money band wagon. Hypocrisy will not steady this ship and that incongruence would be laughable; we must be knowledgeable and walk our talk.