EDITORIAL: The Heart & Soul of the Future, Part Five

Read Part One

“A jewel amongst us.” That’s what a friend said Reservoir Hill was to her and had been to generations of Pagosans.  “And it’s one of OUR town parks”, said another  friend.  Yes, yes, that made sense.  Reservoir Hill is one of OUR town parks.  OURS for the community to enjoy… and OURS to care for and respect, this jewel amongst us…

That’s how local activist Christine Funk began her article for the weekly Pagosa Springs SUN newspaper, for its Thursday, October 11 issue.

Ms. Funk has been instrumental, thus far, in helping organize a grassroots citizens group to develop “Plan B” — the alternative plan for Reservoir Hill that the Town Tourism Committee (TTC) has steadfastly refused to produce during the past two years, while instead developing only one option: “Plan A”… a $5 million amusement park project centered around a decrepit, second-hand chairlift and a handful of mechanical amusement rides that, it appears, would be funded largely via taxpayer subsidies.

At the August 23 Town Council meeting held at the Ross Aragon Community Center, Council member Darrel Cotton gave, as one of his reasons for supporting the Reservoir Hill Amusement Park plan, the fact that “no one has come up with a better plan.”

That comment elicited emotionally-charged cries from several people in the audience: “You’ve never given us the chance to present an alternative plan!”

The audience was the party telling the whole truth.  Mr. Cotton and mayor Ross Aragon and the rest of the Town Council have never allowed anyone from the general public to present an alternative plan to the “mechanized amusement park” proposed by Bob Hart and the TTC.

Christine Funk’s article for the SUN continues:

The overwhelming majority of us are against this big tourist amusement park for our hill – almost 90% in a recent SUN poll.  We have been vocal, but obviously not vocal enough, as the Town Tourist Committee, the Town Council and Town Manager seem to consider 90% a vocal minority.  We are putting OUR town government and town manager on notice:  your indifference — and your math — are being called into question.  All we ask for is some honest answers about an amusement park plan that threatens to destroy Reservoir Hill with carnival rides — and our Town’s finances with $5 million in debt.

A group of local citizens, business owners and community leaders have come together to form The Friends of Reservoir Hill.  We are working on a sane alternative plan based on local input and economic reality, a plan that makes sense and doesn’t waste millions of tax dollars for the greedy designs of a few.

Ms. Funk then provides the mission statement for the new non-profit organization:

Friends of Reservoir Hill Mission Statement

The Friends of Reservoir Hill is a grass roots non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing our community park for year around use by locals and tourist alike.  We want to create amenities that reflect a harmonious natural design that improves and enhances Reservoir Hill while creating a positive economic impact.

With community support and input, Friends of Reservoir Hill would like to partner with the town and the public in exploring the following ideas:

  • Multi-Use Event Center
  • Meadow Greenscaping
  • Educational Exhibits
  • Observation Deck
  • Trails and Signage

Friends of Reservoir Hill want to explore alternatives to large mechanical structures that conflict with the natural and peaceful environment of our park.

As is typical of non-profit organizations, the Friends of Reservoir Hill plans to invite citizens to become “members” of the group and support its goals with their time, their money and their words of good will.

Here in Pagosa Springs, we have a number of organizations that exist almost entirely as a result of their excellent reputations.  We, the people of the community, voluntarily choose to support these groups — and without our voluntary support, these groups would wither and die.  These organizations rely on “good will”, on the public’s belief that they are doing good works.  Reputation is everything, and a good reputation is not an easy thing to generate in Pagosa Springs.

Then we have another set of organizations that exist on legally enforced taxpayer subsidies: the Town of Pagosa Springs, for example, and the Town Tourism Committee. The Archuleta County government.  The Archuleta School District.

These groups do NOT exist because We The People make a daily or yearly decision to support them with financial donations; these groups exist because they have a complex Colorado legal system and law enforcement system enforcing their authority.  We, the people of the community, support these organizations whether we like it or not.

The Town of Pagosa Springs does not “need” a good reputation to continue spending our taxes.  The Town Tourism Committee does not “need” a good reputation.  These organizations can be as unpopular as they wish, and we, the members of the community, will continue to support them — because we are legally bound to support them.  Our governments can be arrogant and dismissive… they can even be corrupt… and we can’t do a thing about it.

Or… can we?

Ms. Funk’s article continues:

By joining Friends of Reservoir Hill you’ll become part of a dedicated team of Pagosa Springs area active locals, business owners and community leaders whose goal is to protect our beautiful Reservoir Hill Park from overuse and poor planning. To join please email us at friendsofreservoirhill@gmail.com and we will keep you updated on membership info, website, blog, as well as our next public meeting.

Reservoir Hill is the community’s park.  We own it.  More importantly, we love Reservoir Hill and we respect Reservoir Hill.   Please join the vocal majority committed to protecting Reservoir Hill…

The group plans to create a website — friendsofreservoirhill.org — in the near future. For the time being, the best way to participate in preserving Reservoir Hill is to contact the group via email.

Read Part Six…

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson spent a pleasant 18 months living in downtown Salida, during which time he did his best to understand the inhabitants and their motivations. He then escaped back to Pagosa Springs to resume his work at PagosaDailyPost.com