To the Editor:
As a sign maker, I have a unique relationship with other businesses in town because they are my customers. I use my talents and knowledge to help those businesses be more successful. In order to do my part well, I get to know each business and their approach to market. After 59 years of designing and making signs, 45 serving Estes Park, I have seen a lot of changes. We are on the brink of an even greater change.
Using my own unscientific method of surveying local business, I have come to realize that even pre-flood, change was well under way. Business as usual has been deteriorating for some time. We have all heard comments about visitors only buying ice cream, candy or carmel corn. Although not entirely true, our other merchants have seen dwindling sales. A number of them have told me that while the typical sales ticket 2 or 3 years ago was $20, it is now $10. Not only does this affect the merchant, it effectively cuts the sales tax collection in half. These merchants then cannot maintain their staffing and we lose families. For me, these merchants have less profit to share for buying new signs.
What we need to save our merchants and reverse dwindling revenues is a new plan. In our economy, we are not in competition with each other but we are in competition with all other visitor destinations. What we need is a new way to reach new visitors and it is being handed to us by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Colorado Tourism Office and the Anschutz Wellness Center. This is a gift we cannot afford to pass up.
There is a great deal of misinformation being circulated about the Anschutz-EPMC Project at the Stanley. The simple truth is that this project will give our town the stimulus and funds to survive, to change, to be better and all with a positive outlook to wellness and good healthy living. The bonus is that EPMC will gain a cash flow that will allow them to continue the services we all need as well as expand an offering of wellness for us.
As to the sale of Lot 4, this is a commercial property which according to public vote in 2008, is appropriate for development, just not an outlet mall. From the data I can find, earlier proposed development on Lot 4 would look more like Stanley Village, not the classic Stanley Hotel, including the proposed Town Hall. Since the IMAX project was never done, the likelihood that the Town could build on Lot 4 is very slim. The other fact often ignored is the existing conservation easement open space dedicated on lots 5, 6 & 8, regulated by the State Historical Foundation. The current proposal for building on Lot 4 not only has open space on the East, there is a south west and west to north open space that ties into Lot 5 which helps to maintain the view between Safeway and the pharmacy.
If Lot 4 would also become an easement, for which there is no current receiver, we the citizens would lose a $1.3 million (up to $1.6 mil) asset. That may not be much to fix infrastructure as some have claimed but it could amount to a few new service vehicles/snow plows, police cars, between 11,000 and 28,000 pot hole repairs, close to 520,000 pots of flowers or seed money for a grant to double the value.
Let us all show the world that we know how to take care of business, take care of our town and graciously accept a gift. Join me and Vote NO on the open space initiative and vote YES on the sale of Lot 4.
Kent H. Smith