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A try at some local predictions for 2023

A week into the New Year, some upcoming events for the year are easier to predict than others. That’s not unusual.

We can easily say that providing workforce housing will be a focus in 2023, even with perhaps a couple of hundred units already at various stages in the planning process, and underway. But even with federal participation, and a percent of lower-income units required, rental rates and purchase prices will be a stretch – and beyond – for those working in services and at mid-level income levels. This hasn’t changed: Land is limited and thus expensive, construction costs are high, and Durango and rural La Plata County are appealing places to live.

Expect to see even more bike riders and walkers; close-in travel is moving that way here and elsewhere. And, 2023 is one year closer to having a pedestrian underpass under Camino del Rio at about 12th Street. When that’s open, there will be a flood of foot and bicycle traffic between the Animas River Trail and Main Avenue. The reaction will be, why did this take so long?

As to recreation, we’d like to see some signs of progress on possible facilities at Durango Mesa Park on Ewing Mesa. Even a lean-to on a gravel path would be a welcome start for what will be an extraordinary public hike-bike-music-maybe-horse venue of several hundred acres thanks to Marc and Jane Katz. The Katzes are thinking big; the city and county need to join them and move Durango Mountain Park along.

We expect that the plan and maybe initial construction of the section of the River Trail between the Juan Maria Antonio de Rivera Bridge (behind Home Depot) and Mercy Hospital will be underway. From the Oxbow at the north to Mercy, that will complete the trail – for now.

Early in the year, Durango City Council will reveal the five alternatives for the possible development of the corner of Camino del Rio and College Drive, now the western portion of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s parking. That is a very prominent corner, considered to be at the intersection at the entrance to downtown Durango.

City Council won’t try to secret the proposals it does not favor, will it, as the School District 9-R board did with its future of its administration building? If it does, Durangoans will cry foul. They will want to be a part of this major development decision.

La Posta Road is an ideal location for additional light industry and warehouses. Will the many property owners and the city come together to agree on who’s to pay for infrastructure? If so, commercial lots for new industry will be the result, along with higher property values and property and sales taxes.

Helping to put the homeless on better footings consistent with their needs will continue and yes, perhaps, a location for a managed camp will surface, one with no nearby NIMBYs. But the edge may be off the homeless effort with the discovery of the extraordinary amount of trash left behind at Purple Cliffs and the multi-thousand-dollar cost to clean it up.

The above items are heavy on concrete, asphalt and wood two-by-fours; accomplishments on a human scale, critical to making this an even more appealing place to live, are more challenging to categorize and to measure. Readers’ suggestions in a letter are always welcome.

Make the most of 2023.