My Turn

Opinion: Hotels and IHOPs threaten our community. Really?

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The real issue our community has been facing are the frightening demographics. Our community has been losing its children to greener pastures for some time. If we utilize our strengths (land, water, culture) we can address this problem and offer our children and grandchildren meaningful employment in the future and help these young families to stay.

For example – if our urban acequia (ditch) system (water) is revitalized, kitchen gardens (land) will spring up (farmers market/culture) and our surface water delivery system will be refurbished; urban waters will drain to the parched lands to the west. The upper aquifer will be recharged; ag land and its tax status will be protected. Long term sustainability enhanced. Revitalizing our acequias will lay the groundwork with the next gubernatorial election (two years) to establish meaningful cash crops – hemp, precious plants, recreational marijuana. If families have an opportunity for a real cash crop utilizing their inter-generational Ag lands with a refurbished acequia system the demographics will begin to stabilize.

One can’t overlook the $24M invested in the airport. The Mayor is working to enable the airport to spin off many small businesses. The Mayor is combining our traditions (acequias) and tech (airport) to guide Taos to economic & demographic stability.

Additionally, he & we on the Council have not overlooked the State’s heavy investment in tourism, the State’s No. 1 economic driver. The challenge is to maintain our authenticity (represented in our acequia work) while at the same time utilizing the State’s heavy investment in tourism to attract folks to visit. Tourism is not an end; it is a stepping stone to help us to get from “here to there” – that is, a more diversified economy with a strong ag base.

Finally, as regards development (the proposed hotel, etc.), Vision 20/20 serves as a guide and recently enacted architectural standards will help to assure Taos’ uniqueness.

As can be seen, the Mayor has a plan; I’ve not heard of any other concrete proposals. Plenty of “lip but no muscle”; Dan and Rick have their work gloves on; I’ve got my shovel. From my perspective, though you may think it naive, “Life starts in the ditch, life ends in the ditch and in the meantime you spend your life working on the ditch.”

Please note that at our recent Council meeting we unanimously passed our new Acequia Ordinance (strengthening acequia protections) as well as an accompanying Acequia Resolution. Additionally the Mayor and Manager created, advocated for and obtained unanimous Council support for the Town’s recently approved “Environmental Resolution” that states time sensitive goals and objectives. A “resolution that has teeth.”

For four years this administration has been cleaning up our inherited mess and curtailing inappropriate political manipulation. It’s been a heavy, time-consuming lift. Our Achilles heel has been the fact that as soon as we’ve solved one problem we move on to the next, foregoing self congratulation & fanfare. Well, it’s time for folks to hear “the rest of the story.”

This administration has a vision, mission, goals & objectives; something lacking previously and I challenge future political contenders to come up with a realistic plan. “It’s easy to throw mud; much harder to shovel it.” I invite everyone to put on your work gloves and bring your shovel – we have a lot of work to do.

Finally, low income and workforce housing issues have been and are being addressed; these types of governmentally funded endeavors don’t happen overnight. It might be also interesting to note that under Dan’s administration the Town continues to close the “wage-scale gap” for Town of Taos employees, with the resultant economic pressure put on other businesses to raise their employee salaries in order to be wage competitive.

Hahn is a Taos town councilor.

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