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Do away with a poor plan

It’s the wrong idea.

Get rid of it, and move on.

The Pagosa Springs Town Council will today consider a proposal for development on Reservoir Hill. It is time for a decision.

The issue has been contentious since it was first suggested the town purchase an old ski lift, transport it to Pagosa and prepare plans for its use on the hill.

The Town Tourism Committee took up the cause, creating a multi-faceted plan, bolstered by a “business plan” to support the proposal. That the TTC was allowed to develop parks plans — rather than the long-established parks and recreation commission — is an indicator of administrative influence at the root of the controversy.

The plan has drawn considerable criticism. Many of its elements — most notably the lift, an alpine coaster and a zip line — have caused an uproar among some in the community. Letters expressing opposition have been written; editorials have appeared in this space expressing the same.

Many who oppose parts of the plan approve of improvement to the festival site atop the hill and many support improvement of the trail system. Most in the opposition camp regard the semi-wild park in the middle of town as a unique asset. We do not want it changed to any great degree, in the manner suggested in the plan.

Those who support the plan note that they, too, want improvements to the festival site and the road, but assert this can happen only when other elements “cash flow” to fund the work. They note the purported value to the downtown tourist economy should the full plan be implemented.

We disagree with the arguments advanced by proponents.

We doubt proposed amenities will “cash flow” to the extent that revenues support development of hilltop infrastructure at the festival site and pay for road improvements. If, as some proponents say, any development on top of the hill is impossible without the added revenues, then we need to do without the improvements in order to preserve the uniqueness of the park. We doubt that incremental improvements are out of the question in the future, and if those improvements take time, so be it. If improvements at the top of the hill pencil out as prohibitively expensive (including upkeep, in perpetuity) then don’t make the improvements. We can live without them.

We do not believe amusement park amenities serve long-term, healthy and quality growth downtown. Such amenities will not draw additional tourists here, nor will they keep tourists downtown. People come to Pagosa Country for the outdoor experience; the river and trails downtown (if projects are ever finished) provide enough to suit tourists and residents.

We oppose the use of public land for permanent private enterprise. We do not oppose coasters and zip lines; we support any businessperson who desires to build them — on private land, with private money.

The town manager says there is overwhelming public support for the plan. We doubt this.

The argument is made that dollars will flow once the development is complete. We doubt that input will be profound. And if the dollars do flow, we do not believe it is worth the cost of marring the Hill.

We want downtown Pagosa Springs to grow and thrive. We support development of the property on Hot Springs Boulevard between The Springs Resort and the community center. We support access to that property via a bridge at 5th Street. We support construction of a new pedestrian bridge and the completion of the Riverwalk. We support practical efforts to redeem the Pagosa Plaza.

We do not support the Reservoir Hill Plan.

Get rid of it and move on.

Karl Isberg

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