Discovery Center is an economic development project in Monticello
DUST IN THE WIND
by Bill Boyle
While everyone is entitled to their opinion about an issue, I would hope that an informed opinion would eventually outweigh an uniformed opinion.
Here is my informed opinion about the Canyon Country Discovery Center.
The Canyon Country Discovery Center is not an environmentalist training center. The center will not advocate for political causes or attempt to influence public land use issues.
The center has nothing to do with the Great Old Broads or the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument.
It is an economic development project, initiated by the City of Monticello, that will eventually result in the creation of 25 new jobs and could fill thousands of motel rooms and restaurant booths a year.
The CCDC will provide educational opportunities for local residents and a wonderful place to stop for the two million visitors who pass through Monticello every year on their way to somewhere else.
I should know about the CCDC. In 2002, as a member of the Monticello City Economic Development Committee, I introduced the idea for the project to the Four Corners School.
Over the past twelve years, I have witnessed the transformation of the organization. The CCDC has become the main focus of the Four Corners School.
I have served as a member of the Four Corners School Board for much of that time. Forty percent of the board members are San Juan County residents and a local perspective is considered in every board decision.
I would be happy to have a civil discussion with anyone regarding this project.
In 2007, the San Juan County Commission agreed to provide seed money funding for the project over a five-year period. The money came from Transient Room Tax funds, which are paid by motel visitors. TRT funds are designated for use to market for increased tourism and to develop tourism infrastructure.
The Commission was unanimous in their approval of the funding.
Three years later, a subsequent Commission rescinded the funding after about $250,000 had been forwarded.
While the county input was significant, the county funding represents approximately three percent of the total funding for the $8.5 million project.Approximately $1 million has already been spent on the project, with the vast majority of the funds being used to pay local contractors and businesses.
I feel confident that the CCDC will prove to be a great opportunity for Monticello. The jobs, visitors and economic growth triggered by the project will represent a significant return on investment.
Over the past ten years, I have consistently told my fellow board members the same thing, “This project cannot be left or right, it cannot be liberal or conservative, it cannot be Republican or Democrat, and it cannot be pro- or anti-environmentalist. We have to stay smack dab in the middle.”
I believe that this has become the shared vision of the entire Four Corners School organization.
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Simply put, the annual Christmas Light Parade in Monticello wasn’t going to happen until Scott Saunders decided to pull it all together.
Saunders, the owner of Sandstone Tire, recruited a bunch of local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce made a connection to Santa Claus. Viola, even though it was later than normal, the parade and Shop at Home event took place on December 14.
Of course, Mother Nature knows that a Christmas parade in Monticello can’t take place without a raging blizzard.
So if you see Scott, you may want to thank him for the parade and for the snow storms.