The (lack of) response to request for qualifications (RFQ) for development of a Meeker Adventure Center should be a nail in the coffin. No major investor is interested in the proposal. This confirms warnings from investment experts published previously in these pages. The Adventure Center is not economically viable, and the town and urban renewal authority should drop the idea.
What keeps most of us here in the first place is that ours is a quiet, remote and close-knit community. Only a small minority of Meeker residents, I believe, want a 68,000 square foot monstrosity in the center of town that would:
1. Turn us into another tourist trap.
2. Provide only low-wage, dead-end jobs.
3. Displace current residents and subject those who remain to intolerable congestion and noise.
4.Invite big-money outside interests to compete with established local business and turn the community to their own ends.
I’ve seen too many other small towns in what-used-to-be-Colorado destroyed by the same notions we’re entertaining now. Just a few weeks ago, my mother and I were trying to count the old-timers who remain in Crested Butte. The tally fits on one hand. The salt-of-the-earth, everybody-pitch-in-and-help friends of years past are all gone, forced out by high prices and the foreign culture of “developers.” Name your town. Aspen, Telluride, Steamboat . . . it’s the same stories.
As proposed, the Adventure Center is a lose-lose prospect. If the center fails, which is likely, we waste investments and end up with a truly blighted neighborhood. If it succeeds, we’re overrun with tourists and lose the quiet and the wilderness and the river that we cherish.
It’s high time we let the Better City (sic) proposals die. There are many alternative possibilities to attract small-scale enterprises that could provide high-skill and value-added jobs.
1.With the availability of broadband, the community can recruit software engineers and tech developers who seek a nice place to live and who can work across the internet from anywhere.
2.The Meeker and Rangely air space provide ideal conditions for training drone pilots in navigation, search and rescue, fire detection and control, etc. CNCC has initiated a program as a start.
3.Education is the key investment in any economy. Carbondale and Paonia host training programs in solar installation, with good success. Goldwind corporation is starting training programs in wind technology just across the border in Wyoming. Those are the fastest growing sectors in the economy and offer the jobs of the future.
4.Collaboration with the community college might also foster training in small-scale manufacture with 3D printers, maker-space facilities, and programming skills. Those are skills that build potential and build lives.
5.Other Colorado communities have attracted small-scale outdoor gear manufacturers and research and development labs. Past success of our bowstring manufacturers provide an example. Small enterprises fit small communities. Various organizations provide start-up assistance for such rural enterprises. (See choosecolorado.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2016-OEDITAnnualReport.pdf)
There are many other possibilities that would help stabilize our economy while preserving the community’s character. I am sure others can add ideas better than mine. Meanwhile, it is clear that an Adventure Center is not wanted and is not viable. R.I.P.
Bob Dorsett, MD