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Letters to Editor

Shot in arm

Dear Editor:

I would like to state my opinion about Wal-Mart coming to Pagosa Country. After reading numerous articles mainly opposing the coming of Wal-Mart, I am willing to bet you my bottom dollar that those people have a home here and somewhere else, therefore making my point that the majority of these people are retired, wealthy and don’t need a job, not to mention don’t even live here full time.

I think that despite these people, the economy in Archuleta County needs a shot in the arm, which would provide jobs for local folks who are not as fortunate as these complainers, not to mention City Market is robbing us blind. Wal-Mart would not only provide needed jobs, but some competition for City Market.

I am glad Wal-Mart won’t be selling tires, giving places like Big O, Parts City and Lucero a chance to survive in these hard times. In closing, I would like to recommend to these complainers places like Chama and Dulce. Places like that aren’t likely to develop anything, so go live there and quit your complaining or leave.

In closing, the local higher position people of City Market dread Wal-Mart coming, as it will cut into their bonuses, as they pay their checkers and courtesy clerks meager wages and fire them continuously.

Carlos Aguilar

Positive

Dear Editor:

I have been following the discussions about Wal-Mart, and believe that it is a lot to do about nothing. The same chaos was circulating around Durango in the ’80s when Wal-Mart was thinking about coming into La Plata County. Since that time, all of the turmoil has been proven to be false. In fact, the only real change was in the price of items. Specifically, in Safeway Stores — the price of canned vegetables dropped 14 cents a can on 14-ounce cans. Eventually, Safeway stores left and City Market continued to thrive and expand. Albertson’s, TG&Y, Payless, Home Depot and other stores have come into the county and the county and citizens are healthier for it. I have seen numerous Archuleta County residents shopping in Wal-Mart and other stores in Durango. These same individuals would shop in Pagosa and save the time and mileage if there was a Wal-Mart or comparable store in Pagosa Springs, and our tax base would also improve. I firmly believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives in having a Wal-Mart Store in Pagosa Springs.

On another subject — Reservoir Hill — I say leave it alone and quit trying to spend tax dollars you don’t have. I am positive that if put to a vote, it would be close to 70 percent against destroying its natural beauty. I also want to thank Shari Pierce for her vigilance in providing factual information that some individuals try to hide or distort. We are very fortunate to have her on the council to keep our administrators honest.

Franklin Anderson

City of No

Dear Editor:

We can talk, talk, talk enough so much as to fool ourselves into believing Pagosa is some sort of upscale community. It is not. And, we don’t even have the foresight to embrace a planned transformation toward anything resembling an upscale resort community. The “Protect Pagosa” talkers have already driven away David Brown and his vision to help create an upscale downtown. Now they want to create some ill-fated shoddy downtown amusement park, but snub a deep-pocketed real company that wishes to bring affordable products to our locals. Can anyone or anything make the “talking heads” happy?

If the “talkers” want to complain about something, why do we not hear outrage about all the secret government spending on raw land and ski lifts recently? No plans though. We can really afford that!

I was in Durango’s Wal-Mart Saturday, and ran into three people from Pagosa (usually three to six, most visits), and witnessed 100-percent support for Wal-Mart in Pagosa. These working class folks just shop, spend their hard-earned money, and don’t really speak out of fear that retribution by the locals will befall them. How pathetic. And now, we’ve seen an obvious mass exodus of our local workers recently because they can’t afford to live here. How many of you are taking advantage of those bargain $60-$70/hour snow removal services offered locally?

What are you clueless Pagosa elitists looking for? Identify your plan, some plan, any plan.

Randy Barlow

Consumerism

Dear Editor:

The growth of Wal-Mart represents the acceleration of a global dependence on hypercapitalistic consumerism that we hope will not find its way into our tiny high country town. Though the drumbeat of the dream-drama is world-wide, as megacorporations like Wal-Mart ruthlessly and efficiently continue destroying their competition, and more and more people end up dependent upon exclusive corporate-dominated production/marketing systems for survival.

The most calloused hand I ever shook was not a cowboy’s or a miner’s. It was the hand of a self-reliant woman farmer named Dixie. It seems Dixie loves her work so much that she keeps at it even though it’s often toilsome and doesn’t make much money. But the quality of the organics she raises bear clean testimony to her worker’s wisdom. In China today, tens of thousands of workers live in factory dormitories and make products for U.S. corporations like Wal-Mart faster and more efficiently than we can here in the U.S. because the Chinese will work in 12 hour shifts for days on end for a few dollars a day in the hopes that they can access the lifestyle of even poor Americans.

At what cost do we Americans enjoy our relatively affluent consumer-driven lifestyles? The price, I venture, is at the very least our self-reliance and our American jobs. We don’t really want farmer Dixie’s callouses. We want to sit in our pajamas, check our mutual funds and text our boss on the laptop, imagining we can somehow put bread on the table in this way. And perhaps a few of us can, briefly, while we borrow more money, and abdicate the real work of life to others, whether they be Chinese urban peasants or enormous inhumane corporations. Ultimately our gold is but a cheap and temporary substitute for blood, sweat, and tears because there is no known alternative to an agrarian society.

We as a citizenry have enabled the evolution of Wal-Mart and other megacorporations by our investments and faith in political and economic systems which at one time were of a size that functioned, primarily within local/regional boundaries, to ensure opportunities for the majority of Americans to enjoy the pursuit of happiness (wealth). However, in this post-industrial age, the neoliberal global movement of capital and decades of our affluent nation state-sized complacency have enabled and accelerated the growth of financial, corporate and government institutions beyond their capacity to function on a humane scale.

Wal-Mart is at once a symbol of megacorporate greed and an emblem of our convenience-dependent modern materialistic lifestyles. We now depend on daycare to raise our children, cheap oil-based industrial food production, an enormous war machine to protect us, giant financial institutions to sell us the debt by which we finance our dreams, foreign labor-based corporations like Wal-Mart to provide us with the things we used to make for ourselves (or do without), and huge government to oversee all this so that it runs … smoothly?

Barr Bentley

Transparency

Dear Editor:

It’s four in the morning and my head is swarming with thoughts regarding our town, growth, transparency, uptown vs. downtown and, yes, even dollar stores. It is not my intention to disrespect anyone, but I find it hard to accept what continues to happen in Archuleta County.

I don’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of politics, and I do realize not everything can be done by committee. That is why we have elected officials. Yet, it does seem we have trust and transparency issues.

I have watched this town struggle with vision and growth for 35 years. I’ve witnessed positive progress in the form of a beautiful community/town center, the hot springs pools, a gorgeous library, the Riverwalk development and a new high school. I also remember a hot springs project voted down by the town, a McDonald’s/Taco Bell that sprouted up overnight, home rule elections, big box meetings and everything in between. Sometimes, locals wanted to stay small and quaint. Other times, opportunities to annex highway strip malls proved to be lucrative.

I have also witnessed the uptown/downtown dilemma. But, in realty, both are our town. Both would be better served as one town, with all of us helping in the decision-making process — transparently.

Many decisions impact all of us whether we can vote on them or not. There have been 500-1,000 town residents in my time here, and, typically, half of them voted on issues that helped shape what now exists both downtown and uptown. Although we are greatly impacted by some of these decisions, we cannot vote nor express our thoughts. The creative business owners who survived and town residents are now living amidst empty lots and structures because of some decisions. It’s pretty much becoming a ghost town.

Those empty lots-structures need our attention. Maybe here is where abatements might entice businesses to move into those buildings. The newest dollar store could have been located downtown — on one of those empty lots or, better still, empty buildings?

I don’t think Wal-Mart is the answer we are looking for. You have already heard about how it affects the businesses, employees, and community in other letters. I don’t think it’s the direction most people who live here, moved here, vacation here, travel through here, want. It might be convenient, but at too high a cost.

Communication and transparency has always been a huge issue. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think we need to actively address it. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could somehow all let the leadership know what our feelings are on such an issue? A Wal-Mart will impact all of us — town folk, county residents, business owners, out-of-state property owners and vacationers. Shouldn’t we all be heard?

Ultimately, it may not be our decision, but at least our officials will know how they are serving us.

Muriel Buckley

(Editor’s note: See this week’s article on Pg. 1 regarding a public forum.)

Wrong?

Dear Editor:

My wife and I have lived in Pagosa Springs for over six years. We’ve owned land here for over 15 years and visited Pagosa for over 25 years. Not long after we moved, rumors of a Wal-Mart coming to town were very strong. The Anti’s organized a successful movement to stop any “Big Box” retailer from opening for business here. Their victory meant that we still get to drive 60-plus miles anytime we need something other than groceries.

Most times that we have to go to Durango to shop at Wal-Mart, we run into several of our friends and neighbors in the store who’ve trekked there because they needed something not available in Pagosa.

I’ve never seen any labor picketers outside the store, and all of the workers seem to be healthy and well fed. Almost every time they open a new store, there are five to ten applicants or more for every opening. Do you think that the propaganda could be wrong? Maybe Pagosa First could question all of the Durango employees to see how many want to quit. They should also check on how many of our local retail jobs provide health insurance and pay more than minimum wage.

Another project that Pagosa First should launch would be to raise $2,000,000 a year for the Town of Pagosa Springs, Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs’ schools. After they raise that, they could turn their efforts to raising gasoline money for every resident who has to travel to Durango to shop. Maybe another $300,000 a year would cover that. They may also need to budget the effect of people who will come from outside Pagosa who will want to shop, eat and soak here like those from Chama, Dulce, South Fork, etc.

Since the location they’ve chosen is outside historic downtown, the store likely will blend right in with City Market, Parelli and the resort. I don’t think that Wal-Mart intends to destroy Pagosa Springs. In fact, a payroll of 175-200 employees will add a lot to our area. Many young people who can’t find a job now will have access to jobs and advanced educational benefits. The benefits of having a Wal-Mart in Pagosa far exceed the fears of Pagosa First.

Byron Dobbs

Perspective

Dear Editor:

I was a college student in Durango back when Wal-Mart was making its move to build and have a store there. I recall many of the exact same arguments against Wal-Mart that were used then in Durango, are the exact ones being used about the Wal-Mart coming to Pagosa Springs.

Let’s go through a couple of these arguments:

If Wal-Mart comes in, City Market will go out of business. Well, if this were true, then why are both City Markets and Albertsons still fully operating some 10 years later?

Oh, it will bring down the economy of the city. In case you all haven’t looked around, our little economy is already hurting. Just look at the number of businesses going out of business in the past year.

There are many people from Pagosa Springs that travel frequently to shop at Wal-Mart in Durango and those who were here before then probably remember making trips to Farmington. Now, instead of driving all the way to Durango, think of all that gas money that will be saved, which should please some of our environmental friends with a reduction in carbon footprint.

I have to question the logic in the idea that it will hurt the local economy. If you inject capital, taxes and consumers stay and shop in your county versus going to another county, how does this hurt our economy in Pagosa? The jobs, the taxes (from employees and purchases) will also generate more revenue for the county and our economy, because now you have more people with purchasing power because they have jobs. How can more money coming here and staying here hurt our economy? Simple economics simply refute this idea.

I’ve heard arguments that, “well, Wal-Mart won’t pay well.” Considering there are many in our community who are unemployed, struggling to pay bills, etc., providing more opportunity for people to work can only help. Many of these jobs are what are called “entry level” or “low skill” type jobs. Of course, they aren’t going to pay well, because you don’t need a special degree or special trade training. This opens up more opportunities for our young adults to get some work experience and make a little money as well.

Wal-Mart has a consistent record of working with local communities by donating to charities and working with them in fund-raising. Again a positive aspect to having them in the community.

The question you have to ask yourself is, did Wal-Mart ruin Durango? I don’t think so.

Did it shut down all the other stores? Again, no.

Has La Plata County benefited from Wal-Mart being there? Absolutely.

Compare the concerns you have with Wal-Mart to Durango and see if the things you worry about came true. If anything, this may hurt the Durango Wal-Mart because of the area residents who don’t need to go there with one here in Pagosa Springs.

I hope this brings a little bit more perspective to this issue.

Note: I am not a champion for Wal-Mart, just hopefully a voice of reason.

Gene Dwinell

Action

Dear Editor:

Reservoir Hill? Wal-Mart? GGP? The geothermal heating system? Pick your favorite issue.

Everywhere I go in the area, there is frustration and unrest about one hot issue or another that causes folks to question what is going on in Pagosa Springs in town government. People feel that what we want doesn’t matter — in fact it seems an unpleasant distraction for town government to have to consider public input.

Sure, over the years, we’ve all heard about one project or another that is underway and issues with infrastructure, etc. But anyone who has been here for some time is used to the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Projects get set aside or quietly become a lower priority or hopelessly mired in bureaucracy.

It seems not much happens in Pagosa Springs over time. Any change is gradual to come, so we’ve come to accept the inertia in town government as inevitable and unthreatening.

Most people in the county have been totally excluded from the process, since only 14 percent of the voters in the county actually live in the town. They are not acknowledged as stakeholders by town government. It has been concerning at times, but we’ve grown complacent because of the sluggishness of the town.

Even business owners that make up the economic fabric of the town are very often not able to vote. They live outside town boundaries. They contribute revenue to town. Their economic well being is vulnerable to town initiatives. But they have no voice. Again, we shrug our shoulders and accept the inevitable.

Until now.

Everywhere I go, I hear talk of action. Maybe this unrest has roused us from our complacency? We are all looking for a way to be included in the process because we feel threatened by the town making decisions for us on issues we really care about.

On April 3, registered voters in Pagosa Springs will be considering a ballot loaded with some Town Charter amendments. Only Town voters can decide.

Some of these amendments seem innocuous. But a proposed change to section 12.9, allowing council to “purchase, sell, exchange, receive by donation, enter into a lease greater than two years, or dispose of any interest in real property including easements,” by resolution rather than by ordinance, represents a substantial change.

An ordinance doubles the chance of public input on the matter, as opposed to a resolution (which requires just 24 hours between initial publication and a vote by council).

Substantive changes have been proposed that address procedures for elections, petitions and referendums that, when included with the other changes in the ballot question (11 total) will directly impact the process by which even town voters are given a direct choice in how the town conducts its business.

Is public input threatening, inconvenient or irrelevant?

The time for trust and complacency is over. I hope that town voters don’t become yet another group excluded from the process.

Muriel Eason

Impacted

Dear Editor:

I am against Wal-Mart coming in for these reasons:

1. Task Force already told us a big box is not suitable for us.

2. Pollution — noise, light, dirt.

3. Close proximity to new trails.

4. Impact on elk migration area.

5. Impact on birds coming to Pinon Lake, as well as the swans already there.

6. Increased traffic.

7. Increased crime associated with 24 hour stores. Does the town have the money needed for more personnel?

8. History of unethical corporate practices.

9. Many of our stores will go out of business.

10. Is our infrastructure capable of handling big box needs?

11. Devaluation of surrounding properties.

12. Huge negative impact on scenic views — not just for near residents, but all who will drive by.

13. This group has a history of coming into small towns, putting many stores out of business, then finding they really can’t make a go of it either. They leave and there sits a big ugly building in a beautiful location, to say nothing of all the vacant small store buildings.

14. Promised jobs will basically be part time, so at the lower pay.Not many new jobs will actually be created because so many others will lose their jobs elsewhere in town and have to go work at the new store.

15. Most tourists come here to get away from the big city atmosphere to enjoy the peace and beauty of our town. A big box is not going to enhance their experience.

16. Horrid location.We were lulled into believing that if a big box came in it would be on one of the extreme ends of town.

17. We, as impacted citizens of the area, have not been given a voice.

Marilyn Falvey

Devious

Dear Editor:

Since it is apparent that Wal-Mart plans to build a Super Store close to my front yard, this has occupied my thoughts a great deal. It recently dawned on me that this plan must have been in the works for a longer period of time before the city council met to discuss it and before citizens of Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs read about it in The SUN.

I walk my dog every day along Aspen Village Drive and last year (I think it was in September), I noticed survey teams were out working at what is now designated to be the site for Wal-Mart. One morning, I stopped and asked them what was going on and the gentleman I spoke with simply said, “We were hired to survey this section of land.” I asked him who hired them, and he said it was, “A big company,” and he wouldn’t divulge any more information.

Several years ago while walking my dog along Alpha Drive, Aspen Village was still in the planning stages. I had the same question for one of the men surveying the area and he had no reticence in telling me about the planned residential development.

When did the planning for this monstrosity begin? Was there a plan to invite Wal-Mart in before the city annexed land so far west of town? Who in the city council knew about it as early as September? And why was it kept secret from the public?

Is there something devious going on in Pagosa Springs?

Sam Goulds

Public

Dear Editor:

Reservoir Hill is a public park. It was purchased with taxpayer dollars to benefit citizens. So, it’s simply logical that all proposed alteration and upgrades to Reservoir Hill should involve detailed public input and vetting of all development proposals. Because the public needs to be involved, there should be no “rush” to develop Reservoir Hill. Good planning takes time. The TTC/town board needs to provide full, open and transparent scoping of each and every proposed alteration on Reservoir Hill, from amphitheater to zip line.

Break the proposed plan down into individual components and analyze each one separately. Some might come quickly, some later. The public should be able to see full architectural renderings of any proposed buildings, chairlifts, zip lines and other infrastructure upgrades so they can clearly see and understand any proposed changes to Reservoir Hill.

Likewise, each and every item proposed by the TTC should have its own detailed cost-benefit analysis, especially private businesses on public property. This financial analysis should look at initial costs, debt structure, maintenance and operation costs, and return on investment and sales tax projections. This financial analysis should be done by a neutral party like the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College. The TTC should not be both a staunch proponent of Reservoir Hill development and, at the same time, be the final arbiter of what is appropriate and financially viable.

I salute the members of the Travel and Tourism Committee (TTC). While I may disagree with some of the Reservoir Hill proposals, I thank them for their many volunteer hours and the valuable work they do for our community.

Jeff Greer

It’s coming

Dear Editor:

In general, anyone who says they don’t drive to Durango to shop at Wal-Mart and Home Depot is being dishonest. Keep those dollars here in Pagosa.

I’ve lived in small towns with high unemployment that fought Wal-Mart to the bitter end. Once it opened, many unemployed locals had stable jobs, groceries were half the price, tax revenues soared and most of the other businesses that were owned and managed by good business people made it. The businesses that were poorly managed, with bad customer service and way too high of markups, didn’t.

Now everyone can stop driving to Durango and feeding their tax revenue.

Do I like I a big box store in my backyard (which it literally will be)?

No.

Will I shop there?

Absolutely, and so will all the tourists and people from surrounding areas. It is what it is (the many negatives and the many positives); it’s coming, make the best of it.

Dawn Koester

Rescind

Dear Editor:

In the wake of the most recent decision on healthcare by the director of health and human hervices, Mrs. Sibelius, which forces Catholic institutions to violate Church teachings, I am compelled to write a letter to all Pagosans of any faith or religion to wake up and pay attention.

This move against the conscientious objection on the basis of religious teaching of our Church is a real threat to any faith in our nation. The First Amendment, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … etc. prohibits the government from interfering in the practice of any religion. When the administration handed down the forcing Catholic institutions to provide abortion, abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization services insurance, they did just that. The “exemption” was that they gave us a year to figure out how to do it. They gave us no choice to continue to live out our Church’s teachings. True, many Catholics do not adhere to these teachings. But the Catholic Church is not a democracy which has votes to determine her teachings. This, too, is contrary to our practice.

Many religions have requirements to act in the world where they live to help the poor, the aged, the widowed, the orphaned, the sick, the imprisoned, the laborer, families, …etc., and to help these to live a life with dignity. The limitations being placed on Catholic health, education, and welfare institutions to do these things because we will not pay for, or do abortions and other procedures that are odious to our Church’s teachings is an infringement of our rights to the free practice of our religion. It has the effect of forcing us to break our consciences.

As far as the First Amendment goes, it should not matter what books or sacred writings a religion uses as its source documents for the practice of its faith. What matters is that no branch of the US government has the right to force adherents of a particular religion to disobey their conscience or the tenets of their faith.

Incidentally, the executive branch seems to be using a controversial issue like limiting abortion and sterilization in the secular world to set an ominous precedent for infringement of the rights of all people of faith to freely exercise their religion. Though the context now is about reproductive health, the real issue is government legislating by executive order, how far freedom goes in the exercise of religion. We cannot afford to allow “the nose of the camel into the tent” by which anyone’s faith will be removed from the public square. I want to call up all who believe fervently or even minimally to stop this dismantling of the Bill of Rights by writing both the Executive Branch officers and your State Senators and Representatives in Washington and ask them to rescind this order on the basis of its eroding your rights.

Fr. Don Malin

Growth

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter in regards to there being a Wa-Mart built in Pagosa. I am totally for it!

I believe we desperately need some economic growth in this town and that a Wal-Mart would be a good start. My husband has been without work for a year now because of the simple fact that there are not nearly enough jobs to go around. There are so many other families living full time in Pagosa that are struggling just like ours because of some of the wealthier part-time residents pushing back any possible economic growth.

I do not believe Wal-Mart will hurt any of our local businesses. Most of us locals do not shop those stores to begin with. Our community needs to make a move for growth!

Teri Martinez

Stipulations

Dear Editor:

I’m in favor of building the new Wal-Mart here in Pagosa Springs, with stipulations.

The largest company in the history of the world is anxious to help out our little community by providing jobs and increasing competition with existing businesses, and competition is good, right? The mayor has apparently suggested that struggling local businesses lower prices to compete with the megagiant that has no intention with competing with them. Wal-Mart likes to come in and eliminate competition, not coexist peacefully with competition, so lowering existing prices is a nice thought, but doesn’t seem to have any basis in reality.

So I was thinkin’, Wal-Mart has apparently agreed not to compete in the automotive parts arena, that’s really nice of them isn’t it? This shows that they have nothing but good intentions and the best interest of the local automotive community at heart. Right? So it should be no problem for them to not sell what other existing businesses already sell. They could agree to not sell hardware, plumbing, electric supplies like Ace sells. They could agree not to sell things like pots and pans, silverware, clothing, kids toys, baby clothing, hunting and fishing gear because all these things are readily available here now, so why be redundant? And, of course, they could agree not to sell groceries or have a bakery cuz we already have people who do that and depend on what they do to live here. They could sell caskets ... did you know that Wal-Mart sells caskets? You can get one for your pet too … but no other pet-related items, please.

Wal-Mart is saying that they could create 175 jobs here in Pagosa Springs. That would nicely offset the 175 currently employed people who lose their jobs because Walmart would be doing what they do best, eliminating competition. Anyone who thinks any local businesses could compete with the largest company in the world is clearly not thinking correctly.

Does anyone suppose Wal-Mart shoppers will come into town and help stimulate the local economy? It’s hard for me to envision the average person making a weekend of heading to Pagosa to shop at Wal-Mart and then maybe spending $500 to spend a night at Bill Whittington’s place or paying for a five-star seared Ahi dinner at the Alley House. No need to go to Goodman’s if they bought all those fine made-in-China clothes at the Savior of Pagosa Superstore.

I’m thinking two things:

Maybe the people of Archuletta County should focus on the jewel we have at our fingertips to increase tourism and therefore create more jobs and local prosperity and maybe the people of Archuletta County should recall elected public officials who don’t see the benefit of concentrating on the blessings we have in the natural beauty of the area, the healing waters of the springs and the will of the people to pursue what they think is best for themselves rather than be dominated by an employer that has a lawsuit filed against it every two hours.

Of course, all of this is moot if Wal-Mart takes my suggestion of limiting what they sell to prove that they have the best interests of the community in mind.

Dave Power

Ode

Dear Editor:

Wal-Mart’s almost here,

Open all days of the year.

Oh, what fun it is to spot,

A five-acre well-lit parkinglot.

The prices are so low,

Why wouldn’t you go and double your dough

One-dollar shirt, you think it’s a hit,

Employees forced on government funded programs, due to lack of benefits

That shirt indirectly cost you max,

Due to increase in your tax.

Like lemurs of the cliff we jump right in,

To the feel that win, win, win.

Everything from fried chicken wings

To jewelry strings,

From baby food and plasma screen

At Wally World it can be seen.

Advice, quality and customer care

This is not amongst their fare

Will they know your name?

The score of your kid’s football game?

We could go downtown, but no store is left behind

Empty storefronts is what you’d find

The town a ghost

Pagosa no longer the host.

But, what the heck, at least we can holler, that we saved a dollar.

Chantal Ralston

Free trade

Dear Editor:

The free trade policies espoused by both political parties are at least 20 years old and have not worked.

You will not stimulate the U.S. economy buying imported goods.

Don Reid

Walmartitis

Dear Editor:

I know that most people who see this will view it as another attempt by an outsider to keep a good thing from coming to Pagosa Springs. In fact, it is my poor attempt to save it from the plague of “Walmartitis.”

I’ve been coming to Pagosa Springs since 1978 and am envious of all you have there. The natural beauty and the people. It is a whole different lifestyle than back here in Indiana. I know progress and change is both necessary and will come to any town. But, no town should have a Wal-Mart foisted off on them. Avoid it like you would a case of the plague. They have Wal-Marts here every 20-25 miles and the local economy and employment is the same in each town they are in. Suffering, in bad shape and getting worse. Someone in Pagosa Springs has decided that the town needs one, I don’t know who. Do you know ? Find out and voice your opinion loudly enough that it can’t be ignored. Do all you can to fight Walmart coming to town. Support local businesses and new businesses coming to town, but not Wal-Mart. They are a plague and the death knell of any and all local businesses and the local economy.

James E. Showen

Kendallville, Ind.

Fairness

Dear Editor:

In his State of the Union teleprompter address, dictator Obama used the word fair, or a form of the word, more times than I could keep up with. What a hypocrite! Like most liberals — progressives — socialists — democrats, what Obama really wants is to ram his ideology down the throats of all who disagree with him. Well, guess what, Pagosa? We have our own dictator right here in our “used to be paradise.” The mayor and city council can ram their agenda down our throats by making closed-door, backroom deals, Wal-Mart being the latest. The vast majority of us cannot even vote for mayor/council, yet they can dictate a concrete jungle right in our front yard. Does that sound “fair,” Mr. President — Mr. Mayor? Doesn’t sound like freedom, either.

Changes need to be made before it’s too late. This is not just about fairness. Our freedom is being threatened. Just a suggestion, since most of us can’t vote concerning city officials or matters; why not put Wal-Mart in their front yard? Maybe Reservoir Hill would be a good location, since it is already in the process of being ransacked. If the mayor/council can make decisions that affect all of us, then all of us should have the right to vote! Sounds fair to me. Of course, if all of us could vote, the mayor and council could be held accountable to the people. What a novel/fair idea!

J.E. Stoeppleman

Motives

Dear Editor:

I have watched, read and listened to all the arguments regarding Wal-Mart. In general, I question the motives.

I know there are some in our community who are Wal-Mart shoppers so to speak, and they enjoy getting out of town now and then to spend a day in Durango “doing Wal-Mart,” taking in a movie, eating out, etc. They make a list and enjoy this once-a-month outing. So, I suppose that putting a store here will be welcomed by them — won’t have to do that get-out-of-town thing anymore.

I have to admit, I am not a Wal-Mart shopper. I used to be, but once City Market built their big store that allows them to stock many more products, I have enjoyed shopping there and, in fact, find the store brands to be very affordable. Of course, we also have a Family Dollar that carries many grocery items, and even Alco.

Basic needs are certainly available in our local stores at affordable prices and what is not there, I find online and it is delivered to my door at affordable prices.

And, isn’t it nice to shop locally with folks who “know my name,” e.g. “Cheers.”

Now, what is the motive of Wal-Mart?

Well, let’s look at profits — hmmm, the store in Durango will lose the Pagosa business plus the cost of constructing another building here in Pagosa.

Pagosa shoppers, hmmm, the few who now shop Durango — tourists do not come here to “do Wal-Mart,” they have one at home — they come here to shop our unique offerings. Chromo has very few people and the folks in Chama will continue to take the cutoff to Dulce and on into Farmington where there is a Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, a huge mall, etc.

What is the motive of our town people? This is a tough one to figure out. When City Market closed the store in town, folks in town screamed and hollered — just can’t drive two miles to the other grocery store, etc., etc. So, if the motive was to serve our people, then why in the world did they not ask Wal-Mart folks to either build their store “in town,” rather than making those “in town” have to drive two miles to shop for groceries? The former City Market building and its adjoining shops all sit empty — lots of floor space there for a smaller Wal-Mart and enough parking to accommodate the 75-100 who shop there. But, instead, they want to set up shop and force the population and incoming tourists to view their ugly building and lighted parking lot instead of the peaceful vistas we now enjoy.

Patty Tillerson

Skyrocket

Dear Editor:

As if the various opinions on the future of Reservoir Hill aren’t enough, there are more layers to the question than most Pagosans are aware. I am thinking in reference to Crista Munro’s letter of last week and other communication.

There is every possibility that the future expansion of music festivals, other large events and amusement rides on the hill will be limited by factors out of our control. Even the current festivals, as we know them, may become a thing of the past. I am referring to open camping on the hill that seemingly puts a camper vehicle or two under every tree. Everyone involved should be thinking ahead and planning for an alternate camping area.

Google “Pagosa Skyrocket” and you will find reams of reference material on this “endangered species.” It is said to be one of the most endangered species in Colorado. The EPA and other federal and state entities are interested and watching!

The following is from a recent academic report: Recreation: Town Park is 150 acres; occurrence (of the skyrocket) is about 2 acres. (The Town) took out mountain bike jumps that were made in Pagosa skyrocket occupied habitat. If a ski lift was constructed on Reservoir Hill, it would be in a place where Pagosa skyrocket is known to exist, (this is) on the sides of the hill where access and infrastructure could eliminate habitat or individuals.

The “critical habitat” includes all of Reservoir Hill and the space south of town, including Mill Creek Road, the fairgrounds, the county property and a few areas down Hwy. 84. That is the extent of this beautiful flower worldwide!

From other research and personal experience, I have noted the EPA and other governing bodies often allow restricted walking paths, but usually exclude pavement and vehicle traffic, along with poison spraying and a host of things thought to be detrimental in a “critical habitat.”

Pagosa long-timers remember when one could walk from Town Park into the river. There are now thick willows restricting access due to a tiny endangered bug living in the willows. The reality is, even in little Pagosa, we have to deal with these things.

Skyrocket protection is in its early stages, but they are watching and it is an ongoing process. A Denver-based botanical organization is planning a trip here this summer to collect skyrocket seed to prevent a total loss of the species. I recently involved myself in an attempt to find protected space in the “critical habitat” where the plant can be propagated for future growth and seed production. The more we propagate them, the less restrictive the agencies are likely to be. We need to be proactive!

The Pagosa skyrocket is something we should take to our hearts. It is beautiful; it is our plant; and we should be proud of it. There should be shirts, caps and an assortment of items in our shops with its image.

Norm Vance

Costs

Dear Editor:

Reply to Shelley Lowe, Exit Realty: be sure to take note of Muriel Eason’ s data on the community costs of a Wal-Mart. Do you know that so many towns can boast of a Wal-Mart, people won’t come to our town because of that? They can find them anywhere. But, who else has a hot springs, a river and mountains right with them? Not many. And, fortunately, those wonderful natural gifts will be here after we can mess things up as we wish. But we could also make them shine as the reasons people could stop on their way somewhere else. Wal-Mart isn’t the reason anyone will come.

However, it might be the reason a lot of our current businesses may fold — Dollar, Alco, at least one hardware store, Radio Shack, too. Bakeries — the three we have now might get flushed down, definitely City Market will have competition. That’s okay, since they need some, but we could do with some quality instead of just quantity.Why hurt that shopping center though? Why just next door? Malcolm (sic) Murri with his Gecko activities has brought people into town that we haven’t had before. Do you know that just for the 50 mile and 50k races there were 150 participants in one weekend! That provides a pretty good multiplier.

However, it’s the location of a big box in the proposed site that really hits because it will harm an established neighborhood — Alpha Section — of which I am a member. When Aspen Village was platted, the developer partner, who I’m sure you remember, showed us this wonderful transition of housing units next to Alpha properties and then the large commercial properties along U.S. 160. You realize, I’m sure, that the proposed site would be restructured from a residential area. You can see the surveying markers disappearing the cul-de-sac. As the town planning department says, the footprint is just about the same. The impacts, though, are far more destructive to neighboring subdivisions.

Probably the worst part of that is you can never count on a plat being built as adopted. Think of that! What do you as a realtor say to your clients? It is a matter of trust as well as law. These days even local trust is obviously hard to find. Established neighborhoods should not be raped. There are other sites where, if you really need to be like any other town, Pagosa could place a Wal-Mart. Be careful of defending the proposed site of Wal-Mart. Exit might be the reality realty.

Bev Warburton

Power

Dear Editor:

I could only shake my head as the Wal-Mart representative lined out their plan for our precious town at the town council meeting. Is there really only a handful of people that know what a treasure Pagosa Springs is and that it’s about to be destroyed forever? Is the town council really that obtuse to the power that they’re about to hand over to the largest retail corporation in the world?

Of course, as a small business owner, I will be directly affected by this change of events, and there is no doubt in my mind of the demise of my business. But, even if I didn’t have a retail store, it doesn’t take much to educate myself on the downward spiral that will become of our community. When we talk of businesses lost, jobs disappearing, property values declined, we aren’t just talking the obvious statistics that anyone can get when picking up a book or Googling effects of big box stores. We are talking about our friends and neighbors. Your neighbor will be losing their job; your friend’s business will be defunct. Your brother’s property values will decline, unable to rebound because he’s on the wrong side of growth, or too close to growth.

There is no business that won’t be affected by a big box store. As Stacy Mitchell says in her book, “Big Box Swindle,” “… opening a (big box store) will not increase the amount of milk people drink or how many rolls of paper towels they use in a year. It will not change their disposable income. The size of the retail spending pie in a local market is a function of how many people live in the area and how much income they have. Building new stores does not expand the pie; it only reapportions it.”

Lvonne Wilson

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