It is good news that the newly seated Ouray City Council is expanding the Community Development Committee. As has been the case for several years, the constant refrain heard from Council is "there is no money." The economic downturn has hit the City hard, but by now it seems wise to consider this fiscal situation "the new normal" and begin to strategize on how to dig ourselves out.
The CDC was formed to be an advisory committee to the Council on policy, initiatives and infrastructure issues to maintain a healthy and growing economy within the framework of our small town values and lifestyle. Past councils have shown little interest in the local economy themselves nor taken advantage of the potential for CDC to help them keep it healthy. But I know CDC could develop an economic strategy and a plan of action for the Council which could begin to reverse this downward trend to begin to build a more stable economic foundation for the future and, eventually, a much better "new normal."
This is not the Ouray we have known and loved. Too many businesses, Main Street buildings, and homes have gone unsold for too long. Band aid remedies seem to be the routine infrastructure maintenance. Decisions about updating the pool, our most revenue producing asset, have been regularly delayed for at least the past 10 years. The streets continue to be mud and dust and require continual labor intensive upkeep, with constant erosion going into the river. The long-ago paid for Master Plan for the Parks is seemingly hung up because hard decisions cannot be made. Grants to help cover new project costs cannot be sought because there is not staff time available to apply, nor administer if awarded, and needed matches for such grants are said to be not available. "There is no money" (to get more money?).
Many towns are experiencing exactly what Ouray is coping with. But those with the traditional optimistic, thoughtful, determined "character" I associate with Ouray are rethinking their new economic futures, adapting their assets to meet the needs of sustaining the quality of life they know and love.
We count on our leaders to invest properly to protect our own investments, our businesses, commercial buildings, homes; and to also protect the investments made by prior generations to hand on to us. Right now, this is hard. But a vision of how we can climb up and make our own new future will likely bring out the traditional optimism and energy for the community to pitch in to reach that common goal. Together.
– Joyce Linn