Do not make downtown like Disneyland

Downtown Durango and its surrounding communities are becoming a recognized national treasure. Many visitors come from afar for the train, several special events and our world-class Western-mountain scenery.

But in addition to that they enjoy the warm, unique feel, particularly of the downtown area, and the smiles and friendliness of its residents and businesses. All of these will continue to attract many visitors and strengthen the area.

City leaders must be careful, however, to maintain a friendly and safe atmosphere for Durango’s full-time downtown residents, keeping residential zoning regulations strong and making sure they are enforced.

Durango, as so many tourist destinations, has “shoulder seasons” when tourists are few and local full-time residents are the ones who continue to frequent the restaurants and shop in the stores. We downtown dwellers must help keep our local businesses busy and prosperous, particularly during the lean touristless months.

Many Durango businesses and eateries do their part by offering specials for locals during the off months, but even without these incentives, buying local is a win-win situation for the entire community.

City Council and city management should not allow the downtown area to become like a Western Disneyland-like set, overcommercialized and with fewer full-time residents, and empty vacation-rental properties for nearly half the year.

The short-term gain of more revenue from increased commercial activity and too little protected residential turf will weaken the character and economic strength of the downtown area and its surrounding communities.

We love living in town full time and being part of this wonderful community. Let’s all help keep strong and prosperous.

Joe and Marge Gambone