Editorial: 'Build it and they will come'

This famous quote from the popular 1989 movie “Field of Dreams”, starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Brown, applies to many future dreams for the San Luis Valley. But none is truer than a proposed RV resort in Alamosa, one of three reportedly in the works at present.

The upscale Rio Bravo Resort proposed for around 60 acres just northwest of Cattails Golf Course would be an economic boon to the community and the entire SLV. Two studies commissioned by the Alamosa County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), and its predecessor ACDC, in the past 20 years proved the need which research has shown has only grown rapidly since.

Great Sand Dunes National Park turns away RVs every day in-season due to limited sites and those visitors have few options but to leave the area and not spend more time visiting and participating in the variety of attractions the SLV has to offer, including two scenic railroads.

Not your average “campground”, recreational vehicle resorts are upscale and aside from only a few examples in the west end of the valley, do not exist within 45 miles of Alamosa. One regional example is the beautiful Mountain Views at Rivers Edge resort in Creede. (www.mountainviewsrv.com)

Rio Bravo RV Resort would have an immediate economic impact with an estimated $5 to $7.5 million-dollar development using as many local contractors as possible. Approximately 17 full time equivalent jobs year-round would be created, including seasonal and full-time employees at an average wage of $25,000 to $30,000 per year.

Other economic benefits include increases in property, sales and lodging taxes. Research shows that the average RV’er spends between $25 and $40 per day in the community they are in.

According to a “white paper” on the proposal, letters of intent have been received from at least three additional retail businesses looking to locate in Alamosa if the RV resort is developed, including two large RV related businesses that would fill a niche not currently served here.

A proposal to purchase and include approximately 35 acres of land currently on the Alamosa City Ranch property has some opponents reeling. A fraction of the more than 1,000 acres encompassing the ranch, this parcel adjoins private land that is currently littered with fallen trees and other debris and offers little use save for an extremely challenging hike. The ranch land in question is currently nothing more than marginal cattle pasture with no trees, no wetlands and no birding areas.

Rio Bravo RV Resort would change all that by cleaning up the property and planting new trees as well as applying other attractive landscaping features.

Public access to city amenities in the area, including a disc golf course and archery range, would remain and be improved at the developers’ cost, including paving. Resort users would also have easy access to the golf course and businesses in town, further stoking the economy.

Current community efforts to expand the use of the river corridor and trail system in the area of the proposed RV resort would not be affected and perhaps could be enhanced for use by the public and resort tenants, as well as a proposal to develop a cross country running system nearby.

Some public concern over losing access to public land for private use is unfounded. There has been little to no public use of this city property in the past due to cattle grazing, and the same can be said for disturbing non-existent wildlife habitat.

Concerns over impact on a housing development on the golf course are also overstated, and typical of the cry of NIMBY (not in my backyard) associated with growth. Access to the RV development would not affect the current homes or proposed future homes between them. Users would access the resort from Highway 17 and North River Road.

Unwanted noise is not allowed in RV resorts; no generators, no long-running diesel engines, no loud music, etc.

No public funds will be expended to develop infrastructure such as water, sewer and extending natural gas and electrical lines. Developers have committed to those costs as well as paving the entire road to the disc golf course including the parking lot, and hope to bring in broadband that could also be available to homeowners in the area.

Those wishing to learn more about the proposal are encouraged to attend a community forum this Friday, Feb. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Barn at La Manzanilla Farm, south of Splashland. Comments are also being taken on the City’s web site. Go to: http://cityofalamosa.org, and click on the yellow bar at the top.

It’s long been said that if a business or community is not growing they are essentially going backwards. Those standing in the way of progress have limited economic growth and vitality here and it’s time to support investors who want to make a positive impact on our community.