Spotlight on Technical Assistance: Pagosa Springs

10 Jan

Located in Archuleta County, on Highway 160, the Town of Pagosa Springs sits at 7,126 ft. and is surrounded by the San Juan National Forest and Weminuche Wilderness, which boasts the largest wilderness area in Colorado. Pagosa Springs is a town with a rich and vibrant history and is also the home to one of the largest and hottest natural mineral springs in the world, the “Great Pagosah Hot Spring” which attracts an impressive number of tourists each year.

DCI brought a technical assistance team to Pagosa Springs on November 12-13, 2012 to complete a downtown assessment. DCI was asked to address a number of challenges voiced through their application and planning processes, including a significant number of businesses closing their doors, visibly empty storefronts, and the need for the community to come together with a common set of goals and objectives.

Upon arrival in the community, team members were given a presentation on the history of downtown and toured the town. Afterward, the team met with the city staff for lunch, and then held four well-attended focus group sessions with community stakeholders and interested citizens. Common observations gave team members an overwhelming impression that all residents are extremely passionate and dedicated to their town. However there is a need to cultivate community cohesion and to recognize and focus on a clear niche that the downtown can utilize to move forward in revitalization efforts.

Recommendations from the technical assistance team included tapping into geothermal opportunities, considering the finite nature of environment and historical resources in their backyard, and considering options for finding financing and creating an organization and voice for the downtown businesses and property owners.

The team also suggested forming a downtown development authority (DDA), encouraging downtown leadership to partner to organize and develop a preliminary plan. In addition, the team presented the need to have a full-time staff person or executive director for the DDA dedicated to the improvement of the downtown business district and revitalization initiatives.

Using DCI’s technical assistance downtown assessment and subsequent report, Pagosa Springs hopes to leverage their assets to encourage their downtown to flourish.

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