Downtown business boomed in 2006

Downtown merchants were smiling in 2006. Sales tax revenues jumped by a staggering 9 percent in the Central Business District between 2005 and 2006.

Anecdotal reports of a prosperous 2006 have been circulating Durango since mid-summer. Actual numbers confirmed the speculation last week, when the City of Durango released its 2006 sales tax revenues. Nearly $6 million in sales tax was generated during the past year in the Central Business District, courtesy of close to $200 million in total sales. During the month of December alone, the traditional holiday shopping period, sales tax revenues jumped by 12.7 percent, bettering the approximate 7 percent increase realized in December the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Business Improvement District has been implementing new marketing programs designed to enhance business in Durango’s Historic Downtown for more than a year. The group’s Board of Directors says the jump in business is not a coincidence.

“This is very exciting,” said John Wells, BID presiding officer. “We implemented our new marketing efforts in November 2005, saw a significant spike in revenues in December 2005, but after a full year of concerted effort, we’re now realizing even more success. It’s taken some time and investment, but we’re seeing all the work pay off.”

BID-supported projects in 2006 included design, construction and installation of the new Visitor’s Kiosk on Main Avenue. In addition, BID and the City of Durango funded two umbrella marketing programs – “Fall for Durango Days” and “Holidazzle.” BID also granted approximately $70,000 more to nonprofit organizations hosting events downtown, with the caveat that funds be spent marketing outside of Durango. Other projects included the Historic Downtown branding effort, an enhanced BID web site, a quarterly newsletter, Downtown logo merchandise and the creation of “Rhythms of Durango,” a CD of music by Downtown artists.“It’s all good,” said Wells. “And there’s more to come. The numbers do indicate that maintaining the Durango Business Improvement District is beneficial for the entire town and county.”

The trend also appears to be happening statewide and looks to be carrying over into the winter season. Colorado Ski Country USA, an advocacy group for Colorado ski areas, released its first period skier visitation numbers this week. Destination ski areas, including Durango Mountain Resort, posted an 11.9 percent gain over the same period in the 2005-06 season.

“To see such a positive increase over what was a great early season for us last year demonstrates the tremendous momentum Colorado has,” said Rob Perlman, president of CSCUSA. “We achieved some great results under some fairly challenging weather circumstances during the critical holiday season. It speaks volumes to the power of the Colorado brand worldwide.”


USFS accused of being pro-moto

Skiers and snowmobilers have always been at odds in the West, but now a new study is accusing the Forest Service of favoring one side over the other. The Winter Wildlands Alliance, a Boise, Id.,-based skiing and snowshoeing advocacy group, says that the agency favors motors over quiet uses, and the group has the figures to back up the allegation.

A recently released WWA report, “Winter Recreation on Western National Forests,” is based on Forest Service data obtained through dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests. Looking at 11 Western states, the report documents the numbers of motorized and nonmotorized winter visits along with miles of groomed winter trails and total backcountry acres open and closed to snowmobiles. The disparity is heavily weighted toward motorized use.

The report reads, “The result is dwindling opportunity for skiers and snowshoers to find a quality recreation experience and escalating conflict between motorized and nonmotorized users on national forest lands.”

For the region as a whole, the report documents 28 percent more cross-country ski and snowshoe visits than snowmobile visits on national forest lands. However, it also points to snowmobilers enjoying access to a far greater portion of the backcountry with 70 percent of total national forest acres and 92 percent of groomed winter trails being open to snowmobiles.

This trend is reflected locally on the San Juan National Forest, as well. The report states that there are twice as many annual cross-country skier and snowshoer visits to local national forest as there are snowmobile visits. It then noted that only 29 of 415 miles of groomed trails on the San Juan National Forest are designated nonmotorized.

In spite of the strong implications of the figures, the Winter Wildlands Alliance hopes the study will encourage managers to work toward consensus. Mark Menlove, co-author of the report, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s not meant to be scathing. The purpose is for it to be used as a tool, particularly for forest managers and rangers who deal with this conflict. This is an attempt to put data in their hands to help them make informed decisions.”


Howley declares council candidacy

Two would-be Durango city councilors have now thrown their hats into ring. Current councilor Tom Howley announced his candidacy this week for the coming April 3 election. Councilors Howley and Dale Garland, as well as Mayor Sidny Zink, are all up for re-election. Linda Geer is also in the running for the April 3 election.

Howley, who served seven years on the Planning Commission, five years as chair, was appointed to City Council 18 months ago. He filled the seat vacated mid-term by Virginia Castro. A former Naval aviator and retired businessman, Howley cites health care as a key issue facing the community noting, “I’ve already initiated efforts to find a solution to the very serious health-care crisis aggravated by the departure of Valley Wide.”

Howley, a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission and Durango Fire and Rescue Board, spearheaded the recent public safety campaign against the running of red traffic signals and is currently launching an effort to mitigate problems with downtown parking.

“I have a very high energy level, plus the time to devote the significant hours required of those who serve on City Council,” he said. “I am always listening and learning, and I endeavor to serve all citizens of Durango.”


Durango Com Plan completed

The blueprint for the City of Durango’s future has been completed. The draft of the proposed 2007 Durango Comprehensive Plan is now available for public review. The plan identifies the growth challenges faced by local governments, and it establishes policies to realize community goals. In addition, the plan helps Durango plan for growth and change over the next 20 years. It has been the product of more than dozen community meetings and hundreds of hours of community input.

Interested citizens can view the plan at or obtain compact discs or hard copies of the plan at the City Planning Office, 1235 Camino del Rio. In addition, the Durango Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan at 6 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Durango City Council Chambers, 949 E. Second Ave.

- compiled by Will Sands

In this week's issue...

December 6, 2018
Shovels ready?

The wait is over – well, sort of. Almost two years ago, the City of Durango completed plans to extend the northern section of the Animas River Trail and build a boat ramp, trails, parking and other facilities at Oxbow Park and Preserve. 

November 29, 2018
Seat at the table

It’s time to make it official. Since the Bonita Peak Mining District was first declared a Superfund site in the summer of 2016, residents have been looking for ways to stay involved.

November 21, 2018
Call of the wild

Gray wolves once called the Colorado mountains home. They were essential to the ecosystem in the western part of the state and key to the culture of its inhabitants. But, the gray wolf vanished from this part of the world almost a century ago.