Most of us moved to Pagosa Country for the small-town atmosphere and the quality of living afforded by majestic mountains, clean air, sparkling lakes, friendly neighbors and a much simpler pace of life.
Over the years, we have seen that quality of life eroded by change.
We moved here before there was a single stoplight in town. There were no fast food restaurants. Timeshare units were not a major part of our economy.
Back then, we waved at everyone and we pretty much knew everyone we passed on the street.
These days, neighborhoods have been altered. Many of our neighborhoods are no longer filled with families. Short-terms rentals have replaced those families. There are no other kids next door for children to play with. Instead, there are people here on vacation. Some are here to party, make noise and have fun. There is no one to borrow a cup of sugar from when you run out. There is no one to help push your car over the snow berm.
While we know that change is inevitable, embracing that change can be difficult.
Our community is at a crossroads. Most people we talk to claim that they do not want Pagosa Springs to become the next Telluride or Aspen. Is that the path we are headed down?
We find there is a shift underway in our community. A shift that many small towns face as new money and new residents are attracted to those same things that brought us here.
An abundance of change is on the horizon for our community.
Large parcels of land that have stood vacant for years are now prime properties for developments — very large developments. One of those developments could double the size of our town.
We’ve seen a gravel pit application proposed, opposed and withdrawn. Another pit is currently proposed in Hinsdale County in the Upper Piedra area, with potentially more in the area on the horizon.
You can review proposed development projects that may come to fruition on the town’s platform for projects and plans at mypagosa.org. There you will find proposals for apartment projects, townhomes, villas, condos, retail projects, resort expansion, subdivisions, a tiny home park, storage units, RV park and more.
The county’s planning proposals can be found at http://www.archuletacounty.org/467/Planning-Proposals.
It is imperative that our leaders consider how these projects can change the face and fabric of our community.
We have heard local groups publicize the number of housing units that must be built to meet the needs of our workforce. Now, they may just get those numbers. The housing units may not all be priced very affordably, but those proposed housing projects will change the landscape of our community forever.
Will these developments make the community better with new housing options and amenities? Or will they make it worse by taxing our already overburdened infrastructure? We have faced and continue to face numerous growing pains when it comes to roads, sanitation, water and the landfill. To mitigate those impacts is costly.
We do not envy those sitting in positions to make decisions regarding the future of our community. Yet, there are rules and guidelines they have a duty to follow.
We, as citizens, must make our voices heard in public meetings regarding concerns or support we might have regarding these proposed developments. People need to speak based on facts.
Like it or not, small-town Pagosa Springs is changing.
Terri Lynn Oldham House