VIDEO: NRCDC Public Presentation at the Salida SteamPlant, Part One
The discussions at the January 22 Salida City Council meeting — concerning the proposed gift of municipal property on Sackett Avenue to Colorado Parks & Wildlife in exchange for a promise to someday build a facility at the Natural Resource Center (NRC) location southeast of downtown Salida — made it clear that some citizens were uncomfortable with the level of non-transparency currently demonstrated by the Natural Resource Center Development Corporation (NRCDC) since the formation of that non-profit corporation in 2009. The corporation has thus far built one facility on the City’s Vandaveer Ranch property, using that ranch property as bank collateral, and the US Forest Service is schedule to move in, and begin paying rent, sometime in April of this year.
In an attempt to make the corporation and its goals more thoroughly familiar to the general public, NRCDC board members Tim Glenn — a former Chaffee County Commissioner — and Dara MacDonald — who is also administrator for the City of Salida — invited Salida citizens to a presentation and “Q&A” session at the SteamPlant ballroom on Monday evening, January 28. The first part of the presentation consisted a lengthy and presumably thorough historical discussion of how the NRCDC arrived at the current situation, and where they might be headed in the future.
Former commissioner Tim Glenn quoted extensively from a 2006 feasibility study that projected, he said, millions of dollars of additional economic value to the Salida community as a result of a proposed Natural Resource Center. Unfortunately, perhaps, that feasibility study had focused — not on a facility along Highway 50 — but on a building proposed for Division of Wildlife property near the Heart of the Rockies Medical Center. In 2006, Mr. Glenn told the audience, several state and federal agencies were expecting to outgrow their current offices, and the feasibility study predicted up to 30,000 additional visitors to Salida as a result of the proposed NRC, adding a possible $1.7 million per year to the local economy.
As noted, that study was published in 2006. Mr. Glenn and Ms. MacDonald did not address how those predicted numbers may have been changed as a result of America’s current economic conditions, or by government budget reductions.
“You know, this has been a bit of a rocky road,” Ms. MacDonald noted during her presentation. “The City of Salida, most likely…” She paused. “Probably not best that we’re in the development business. There probably was a better way. There have been mistakes made along the way. We worked diligently to fulfill this purpose that was laid out for us. Could we have been more transparent? Most likely. Should we have held more meetings like this? Absolutely. Could we have offered the land itself, to a private developer to pursue exactly this vision? Absolutely. But we’re here now. And we want to keep moving forward and implementing this vision.
“So I’m not going to try and defend the way we got to where we are. I’m certainly happy to talk about it and explain it. But I know that mistakes have been made in this process.”
“So we’re going to try and move forward.”