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Ross Aragon resigns from CDC board

Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon submitted a letter of resignation last week to Rich Lindblad, executive director of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation, from that organization’s board, effective immediately.

Aragon had, until his resignation, served as the board’s president following the resignation last summer of the previous president, Mike Alley. However, Aragon had served on the PSCDC board since the organization’s formation in early 2010. Aragon had previously served on the board of the Archuleta Economic Development Association (AEDA) and transitioned to the new board when that organization folded in order to form a Community Development Corporation (CDC).

“For many years,” Aragon’s letter reads, “the Town of Pagosa Springs has sought to provide meaningful support for our business community. We have supported the Archuleta County Economic Development Association and more recently the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation. This support has taken the form of financial assistance, as well as providing leadership on the board of directors.”

When asked about reasons for his resignation, Aragon said, “It was time. We had stated that when I lobbied the board (the Pagosa Springs Town Council) to support the CDC that this was not forever, it was on a temporary basis.

“I just was not seeing anything in return for the town and justifying spending further money,” the mayor added.

By PSCDC bylaws, government officials serving on the board are term-limited to three years. That limit expired this month (it should be noted that the PSCDC did not convene a meeting this past month).

The term limits apply to the county’s representation as well. Thus, county representative Clifford Lucero is also required to resign from the board. Yesterday, Lucero told SUN staff, “It was an appropriate time to get government off the board and get business members on the board. We need to wean it from government support.

“I just want to move forward and for the community to move forward,” Lucero added.

Both Lucero and Aragon also acknowledged that term limits had necessitated their departure from the board.

However, previous articles in The SUN raised questions regarding the efficacy of government involvement with the PSCDC, especially since CDCs normally operate autonomously from local government and, after initial seeding from government funds, become self-sustaining through community input and return on investment.

Furthermore (as reported in a March 1 article in The SUN), past PSCDC board members expressed concerns over the deleterious effects of the potential politicizing influence of government officials serving on the organization’s board, especially since the goals of a CDC might not align with the agenda or desires of local government.

Nevertheless, and bylaws aside, the resignation of Aragon, and the pending resignation of Lucero, come at a critical time in the PSCDC’s function as it grapples with how to survive with little community or business investment and with little to hold up as community or economic development accomplishments.

However, Lindblad stated yesterday that he sees the composition of a new PSCDC board as an opportunity for growth and advancement.

“I have said that I will miss them,” Lindblad said. “Ross has been a big help to me and Clifford has just come on board to work on some important CDC issues.”

“At our next meeting (May 7), I’m going to outline how we may go about identifying candidates who can really create some positive impact on this board,” Lindblad added. “I want to open the door and make it a very professional process to get people engaged. Not just board members and business leaders but local citizens who want to serve in whatever capacity they can.”

The PSCDC bylaws stipulate that the two resigning board members have the right to name their own replacements. Although Aragon has not said if he will name his replacement, the county has placed a classified ad in The SUN soliciting Lucero’s replacement as a county representative on the board.

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