Read Part One
When the floor was opened up for public comment at last week’s PSCDC meeting, the following dialog ensued.
Ken Vickerstaff stood and recognized the level of individual contributors in the room—both audience members and the Board, but went on to say, “I’m embarrassed…that an organization like this can go from $149,000 in funding to $31,000 in funding. It’s unconscionable! Other than Michael Whiting, I challenge our public officials to review this budget. We need this help. We can’t do it by ourselves initially. I call them out! Look at the facts and the results and to step up to the plate! It takes a community effort, INCLUDING our elected officials to fund this organization. It happens in every single community in Colorado today EXCEPT for Pagosa Springs.” The audience burst into applause after his passionate remarks.
Others asked questions about who would be the point person in Rich’s absence and how the PSCDC can provide needed services. The PSCDC will become a “matchmaker,” matching needs to available resources. We can also build a catalog of member skills if they are willing to coach and we can utilize the Pagosa Time Bank for non-monetary exchange of services.
Next on the agenda were project updates. Udgar Parsons, PSCDC Board member provided an update on Imagine Downtown. DCI left Pagosa with a list of recommendations. There have been two public meetings since, where two initiatives were selected to move forward with:
Window-Decorating – This group chose the theme, “We Believe in Pagosa,” worked with the local schools and kids to create artwork representing the theme, got donated frames from Doors and More, and worked hard with volunteers to decorate some empty storefronts before Christmas. Colored solar lights were also hung to better light up the downtown area. A big “We Believe in Pagosa” banner now hangs over the old City Market storefront. Just before Christmas the Kidz Cowboy Christmas was held in the City Market parking lot, with Santa, cookies and hot chocolate. Attendees were encouraged to take the kids’ artwalk. If you haven’t seen the art work, please stop by and be inspired.
Downtown Champion Organization – One of Downtown Colorado Inc.’s (DCI) main recommendations was to form a focal organization to coordinate with local governments, local property and business owners, citizens and other entities as needed to lead downtown revitalization. Some organizational options include funding mechanisms and all have pros and cons associated with them. Work is continuing to explore the options, define what the district should include and determine the amount of potential funding. This team is also looking closely at what other towns have done for examples of success. The group is working with Ken Charles of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. See Identify a Downtown Champion for more.
Imagine Downtown is a community-owned initiative with an informal steering committee made up of Shari Pierce, Udgar Parsons, Mary Jo Coulehan and Muriel Eason. We welcome interested members of the community and those that want to volunteer to attend our monthly public meetings on the 4th Thursday of each month at 6pm at the Community Center. Please join us to help shape the future of downtown Pagosa Springs!
Jason Cox, PSCDC Board member next provided an update on Crowdfunding for community projects, the topic of our December 2012 public meeting. Cox is collaborating with Anthony Edwards of Crowdfunding Offerings, LLC to work through some technical challenges and expects that we’ll be able to post our first projects to the community for funding in a month or two.
Parsons provided the last project update on the downtown City Market Acquisition & Redevelopment. Parsons explained that he sat down with each member of Town Council last week and received a commitment from each one that, should the PSCDC acquire the property and provide a realistic plan, they would indeed commit funding to the project.
Vickerstaff added that he had just had a conference call with the corporate representatives. “This is difficult to work through a $100B corporation—especially since they have never given a store away before.” Vickerstaff continued, “We’ve worked through some broad brush potential uses of the 29,800 square foot facility.” We’ve penciled in the Ed Center, a culinary school, business incubation around alternative energy, and vocational skills. “While the local governments have some responsibility to help, this does not solely rest on their shoulders. We need to marry grant opportunities to each project and we believe that there is potentially $5M in grant money that relates to our opportunities. We’ll put together an ad hoc committee to select the ones we are most likely to be able to get. The “igniter” for this project is hard, cold cash—not promises. While we won’t have an answer tomorrow, we hope to within 60 days. This gift will benefit the community, but most especially benefit our most precious resource, our kids.”
Vickerstaff then changed topics and announced that Ziggy Marley’s Coco’man has created 1 full-time and 2 part-time jobs here. Vickerstaff’s Board has authorized the R&D to create the first ever geothermal packaging and fulfillment center in Pagosa Springs. Samples for attendees were provided and will be mailed out to the organic food industry.
Other business of the evening included:
The Mountain Crossing Project - a mixed-use development will be built at the intersection of US Highways 160 and 84, a high profile location, considered the gateway to Pagosa Springs. The Town Council has given unanimous approval to a preliminary plat design that will include commercial sites, retail stores and light industrial businesses on 73 acres. More information on this project will be covered in a future Daily Post article.
Weiler then announced that he would was resigning from the Board, effective immediately. He agreed to move to an advisory role and lead this Regional Infrastructure Task Force on behalf of the PSCDC. His new role will be similar to the role Vickerstaff is playing with the acquisition of the City Market property downtown.
Vickerstaff then made a commitment on behalf of GeoGrown, Inc. to fund the first geothermal well in that area on the east end of Town.
The Board then voted to accept Weiler’s resignation, voted to form an Advisory Council and then voted to nominate Weiler and Vickerstaff as its founding members.
Michael Whiting stood and publicly acknowledged Rich Lindblad saying “He was absolutely the right choice for Executive Director.” He then went on to say that he commended the people in the room who put themselves in political peril for absolutely no personal gain in order to support and defend small businesses in Archuleta County. He endorsed our bravery and courage for wanting to promote modern economic development. He foresees a time in the very near future when our support of small business will be fully embraced by the community. “It takes this kind of leadership to force that change. While support from the government has been waning, a groundswell of support from the community is surging. There’s more community support with less money on the line than there was 8 months ago and that is a credit to Rich, Karin and this great Board. Thank you!”
The next PSCDC Public Meeting will be Monday, February 4 at the Quality Resort at 5 pm, followed by a public reception to get better acquainted with the PSCDC Board and interested members of the community.