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Positive plans for Pagosa Country

Activities surrounding the annual Fourth of July celebration here affirms our opinion that Pagosa Country is doing relatively well.

Pagosa, as some with certain interests will claim, is not “dying.”

Were you at the Fourth of July parade? Granted, the entries in the annual event sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club were not as numerous as in years past. Easy to explain: There were not lines of large vehicles representing construction companies; there were fewer fire trucks; the Forest Service did not have its usual, impressive contingent, since there were other things to attend to; there were no tow trucks towing other tow trucks. The entries, however, were delightfully representative of the community: civic groups, entertainment enterprises, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, music and theater groups, horses, wagons, football players, fair and rodeo royalty from here and Dulce. It was a great parade, managed expertly by Rotary. A group of local pilots performed their traditional flyovers and the American Legion color guard led the way. The crowd of spectators, to these eyes, was as large as ever. People packed the edges of the parade route and everyone had a great time. The arts and crafts festival was shoulder-to-shoulder following the parade, the stands at the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo were full that afternoon.

Had the fire ban not prevented the fireworks display at the high school, that event, we have no doubt, would have been a big hit.

Where did all the people come from?

A scan of the faces in the crowds at the parade, the fair, the rodeo, revealed but a few neighbors and other acquaintances.

The rest?

Visitors. We have not suffered a huge hit to our tourism industry, and sales tax and lodgers tax revenues year to date bear this out.

The economic downturn of a few years past hurt nearly everyone in the region, in the U.S., in the industrialized world. We have all struggled because of the blow to our economies, our confidence, our willingness to spend.

We submit that Pagosa Country has suffered less than many. We submit we are fighting our way back, and we remain strong in many respects.

Now, there are also a number of positive prospects on the radar. A reading of this week’s SUN reveals some of them, notably a county Development Action Plan that defines areas for focused efforts in the near future, and an approval on first reading of a request for vested rights for a downtown project on the lands between The Springs Resort and the community center.

Bill Dawson and Matt Mees have requested the vested rights (rights granted to other developers in the past), and they should receive them. Dawson and Mees have proven their worth in the past, building the hot springs facilities and a motel building now part of The Springs Resort — elements that are a big part of Pagosa’s status as a prime destination. The duo does quality work, and the palette on which they can operate at some time in the future is key to the economic upgrade of the downtown area. Dawson has indicated their plans are independent of a bridge on South 5th Street and we have no doubt whatever they might do could be as great an addition to the area as the hot springs development next to the San Juan River.

There is positive stuff afoot — from private and public sectors — also including the work about to be finished on Lewis Street and the capital improvement plan in place at the airport. All of it is evidence that claims of doom are off the mark.

Karl Isberg

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