“Aragon & Brown: An interview,” Part II originally appeared on pagosa.com, Dec. 21, 2004

How does the CVC see the role of the Arts in Pagosa’s future?

David J. Brown clarifies his reasons for getting involved in the town’s planning process, at the Community Vision Council’s November Town Meeting at the Community Center.

Goebel: There is a lot of information in the summary report for the CVC that talks about marketing to DINKS (“double income, no kids”) and branding the community to appeal to second-home owners, and those who don’t need jobs to come here, either they are retired or telecommute or freelance. This is what Dr. Richard Florida defines as the “creative class.” Florida’s thesis is that these people are drawn to places of diversity with thriving art and culture. And our community survey results show that 58% of respondents want to see a conference/performing arts center in Pagosa and 38% of those want to see this downtown, yet this aspect is completely missing from the conceptual plans.

“I don’t agree with you at all,” Brown responded emphatically. “First of all, we have to start someplace. Look what’s already been done here in 11 months. We started from zero to something. These are preliminary ideas, these are concepts, these aren’t absolutes, they aren’t saying that we are excluding anybody, it’s a place from which to start. One of the things on the plan, is that in the future, the Junior High and the Intermediate schools could become the location for a town plaza. It was thought that the [Intermediate School] could become a cultural arts center, that building, because it’s a great old building. To restore that and to make that whole section there across from the new town park as a gathering place for these types of event to occur.

“Now, I personally think that the performing arts thing is great, but you know, we have so much time, we have so much money, so now we’re ready to take this to the next step. And I think it’s why it’s vital to have the community input for people to say what you just said, we really want a performing arts center. I personally would love to have one here, the question is where should it go, how do we fund it? It’s not a matter of not wanting it. The central issue we have is to preserve the most valuable assets of our community—the river, develop the trail system, develop the parks while we have the land, develop the hot springs, work on this education thing and out of that will spring such things as the performing arts.”

“We’d be poor representatives if we said we have to address priorities. And the priority is a cultural center,” Aragon added. “We have to start with the economics. The economy. We have to build that. We have to make sure that the shop owners can stay open hopefully six, seven days a week in the future and if our marketing strategies are productive, we’ll be able to do that in order for the town to prosper. That’s what its going to take. And subsequently the cultural and performing arts will follow. It will follow.”

It’s about Unity

I couldn’t help but wonder about the two local groups—Friends of the Performing Arts (FoPA) and Music Boosters—who are both separately attempting to plan and develop two completely different Performing and Cultural Arts Centers for our Community. I think both of these groups need to be working together and they need to be working with CVC. I asked Brown and Aragon what they thought and if CVC would be open to working to bring them together.

“It would be better if they would [work together].” Aragon said. “I think that’s what’s so neat about our group. Is that we’re community oriented, we’re including everyone. I don’t see how a group can go out by themselves and say we’re going to do something. It won’t work. It can’t work.”

Brown added, that CVC has an open door policy. “We’re going to be having public hearings starting in January and this is the time that people need to stand up and say what they would like to see. But let’s try to encourage them not to be negative. Let’s try and encourage them to be positive. Because if everyone goes in their own direction then you can’t achieve unity. That’s pretty simple.”

Brown sat back and then continued his voice softer. “I am personally a Christian and I have a strong faith, and in the book of Ephesians, written by Paul the Apostle, he talks about the body of Christ and whether you believe that or not, it’s the same illustration. The body is made up of many components, fingers, feet, legs, arms, thighs, hair, head, all these things. Well in order for the body to work, they all have to work together. If the finger goes over here and says I’m going to be a finger and doesn’t want to be part of the overall body, then it doesn’t work. It’s the same concept. So if we’ll all come together and work together instead of doing what so many other communities do, and try to go with our own self interest, we have an opportunity here, to do something that would be incredible and that’s what I’m trying to say to people.”

“But we have to also be realistic. We’re dealing with priorities to get this thing off the ground,” Aragon added.

“Back to the illustration. If this wheel doesn’t start turning, then nobody wins,” Brown said, pointing to the picture he drew. “If everybody is sitting here arguing about what they want to do we don’t get anywhere. Start the wheel going, and it will evolve.”

What role will CVC take?

You have said that CVC will continue to advise the Town and I read in the materials that CVC sees its role as coordinating between governmental groups, organizations, businesses and volunteers to develop an implementation plan, establish priorities and put the plan into action? Will CVC push this planning strategy at the county level? What other role will CVC take now that the plan has been turned over?

“I think the committee is just starting to work,” Brown said with a laugh. “We’re not entirely clear, I think it’s something that evolves, but some of the things we’ve talked about are to help the town with its river corridor and provide advice and experience, help with the trail development, help with the traffic issues, which are a huge problem. Some of us have contacts with CDOT at various levels, to try and get that accelerated. Move forward on the acquisition of the land for the parks. Help the school district move along in their planning process. Just encourage them. We’ve had great progress in that area. We’ve got them thinking about a long range plan. They never had a long-range plan. So to bring the resources of the group, and I don’t mean the financial resources, but the benefit and the experience of this group to help whoever needs help. You know, if the performing arts thing wants to get going, you know we can lend our advice and support to help them think through these things.”

There is a pause before Brown continues. “I think there is a misconception here that we [CVC] have a lot of authority. We don’t have any authority. This is a volunteer group and we are here to help the county and the Town to do things they may not be able to do by themselves. Or to achieve their objectives in a timeframe that we all feel is necessary due to the pressure on the community.”

CVC and Archuleta County

Do you think you will be helping the county develop their land use codes? I ask.

“Well the county is part of our board, so by definition, yes,” Brown said pointing out that Mamie Lynch, County Commissioner is a member of the CVC.

“The Town has been participating and we’ve included the county as part of the community, but financially they have not made a contribution,” Aragon pointed out.

“We’re asking for one next year,” Brown said.

“Hopefully they will see it as beneficial,” Aragon continued. “You know, from my perspective I will see then that there’s more of
a commitment, there’s really no commitment until they sit down at the table.”

“I think one thing that Ross and I are very proud of, is that when we initiated the moratorium on the big box stores, which came out of the CVC, within five days the county adopted the same ordinance,” Brown said.

I recalled a conversation I had at the Post Office with a passionate local resident who was frustrated after the unveiling of the CVC vision in November. This person was concerned that county money would be used to finance the Town’s one square mile master plan. How can the county afford to give money to this when the county can’t afford to pay for roads?

“The county is part of the community in my opinion,” Aragon said. “They own property in this core area that we’re talking about, very valuable property. That is one way of looking at it.”

“If the economy grows here and activity grows here, then more funds are generated for the county right?” Brown responded. “As more funds are generated then they can fix the roads. They have to become a seed investor in order to get the benefit.”

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