‘Can’t we all just get along?’


    Staff Writer

    Pagosa Springs Town Planner James Dickhoff made a proposal, at both the Jan. 24 town council meeting and the Jan. 29 planning commission meeting, to start having joint work sessions to facilitate better communication between all of the town’s boards and commissions.

    “Currently the town council, planning commission, Historic Preservation Board, parks and recreation board and Town Tourism Committee do not meet together for discussions,” Dickhoff explained. “Staff recommends considering holding this type of joint work session once a month for three to four months and then maybe on a quarterly basis, as a means to ensure all town boards and commissions have the opportunity to meet and get to know other board members and to enable each board and commission to present challenges, successes, goals, etcetera, on a regular basis to all town boards. The ultimate goal would be to provide for better communications and understanding of how best to work together and to better serve our community.”

    A good example of the issue Dickhoff was referring to came to light at the Monday night meeting of the Friends of Reservoir Hill. Once again, it was standing-room only in the south conference room of the Ross Aragon Community Center as a crowd of concerned citizens braved a nasty winter storm to hear the latest news about Reservoir Hill.

    “Part of the issue for Jim and Parks and Rec,” Friends board member Jeff Greer explained, referring to parks superintendent Jim Miller, “is the town resolving who is really in charge of the parks. Right now the TTC brought their plan forward without going through parks and rec, so I don’t think Jim really knows where he stands or the community understands how development takes place in park facilities throughout the community.”

    “One of our goals,” Friends board member Ken Levine added, “is to get parks and rec re-involved with this (Reservoir Hill development plans), and they agree with our position.”

    The lack of communication between the Parks and Recreation Department and the TTC came up again later in the meeting when a third Friends board member, Christine Funk, mentioned the signage on Reservoir Hill.

    “When I talked to Jim he mentioned that Mike and David, who are both here,”  — Funk indicated two audience members, Mike Musgrove, the newly elected chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission and town council member David Schanzenbaker — “were both interested in coming up with mountain bike signage, and so we wanted to see if you wanted some help with that.”

    Funk went on to describe ideas she has had concerning nature signage and ways to get townspeople more involved, like having a contest for area school children to come up with names for some of the trails on Reservoir Hill.

    “I think it would still have to go before the parks commission,” Musgrove responded, “and then ultimately before the full council. Just because David and I are seeing eye-to-eye on what needs to happen here doesn’t mean that everyone else will agree with that.

    “I mean, the need is there because the TTC removed the trail signage at the Hot Springs Boulevard trailhead, as well as the San Juan Motel trailhead, so there’s a need for it, and it’s something we talked about at the last Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. Unfortunately, we are going to have to go to council to ask them for funding if anything is going to be done to fix that.

    “It was just an oversight on the TTC’s part. They removed the trail signs and put up signs of the whole town. Right after they did that, we were up there mountain biking and there was somebody standing there scratching their head, trying to figure out where to go. So, there is an obvious need for it, and it is something we will just have to address later.”

    Funk suggested that trail signage and nature signage were two separate issues, and audience member Chrissy Karas, who is on the Historic Preservation Board, suggested creating nature signs that incorporate the same design features as those along the Riverwalk describing the wetlands adjacent to Town Hall and the Ross Aragon Community Center.

    When another audience member asked if the TTC, which has funding in its budget for wayfinding and signage, could be counted on to help, Musgrove said, “They spent their sign budget on this.”

    Local architect Courtney King clarified, “They put their signs up there and took down the trail signs.”

    “Then they basically looked at the parks department,” Musgrove continued, “and said, ‘Oh, there’s no trail sign up here. You guys need to do something about this.’ The TTC did their part.”

    Everyone laughed.

    Stacy Boone, who is a current member of the TTC, and Morgan Murri, who recently resigned from the TTC, were both in the audience, but neither one offered any explanation or defense of what the TTC had done.

    Of course, a meeting of the Friends of Reservoir Hill might not be the best place for someone to speak out in defense of the TTC. It might have been considered a hostile environment, even though there were representatives present from all of the town’s boards except for the planning commission.

    “It’s good to see a group of people trying to move forward with improvements for Reservoir Hill,” Schanzenbaker said after the Friends meeting. He explained that the entire controversy began because people wanted non-mechanized improvement such as signage and trail improvements, an observation tower, restrooms, and an amphitheater in the meadow for music festivals. It was only when the question arose concerning how to pay for such improvements that other ideas — an alpine coaster, zip-line, etc. — were suggested as ways to raise funds.

    With this in mind, Dickhoff’s proposal for a joint work session might have merit.