Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio and all the areas in between make up La Plata County.
These communities started in the 1880s as a hot bed for mining because of the discovery of silver, gold and uranium in the mountains near towns like Silverton.
This little area of Southwestern Colorado continued to grow. In 1970, La Plata County had a population of 19,931. By 1999, the population had increased to 43,049, and by 2015, it was up to 54,688.
What’s next for the area, still known for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train, Mesa Verde National Park and Purgatory Ski Area, to take the next steps to grow responsibly?
We find ourselves in 2016. The Chicago Cubs are making a strong play to win their first World Series since 1908, the race for the White House is what it is, and the world population is approximately 7.4 billion. I am going to steal a page from Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown’s book (or for those of you a little younger, I will make like Dr. Who and jump in my phone booth), and make a top 10 list of local predictions as we fast forward 20 years to June 2036:
1.) Main Street Durango will be blocked off from 6th to 12th Street and become a place teeming with restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses dependent on foot traffic even in the age of the first flying cars. 2.) Three Springs will continue to be built out with many new homes, as well as a new city park, new elementary school, new middle school, new high school and a new convention center.
3.) Not only will Bayfield and Durango be almost joined, Mancos and Durango will be as well.
4.) The old Rocket Drive In property will finally be built upon, and Durango will finally have a few more apartment buildings.
5.) Each home in Durango and La Plata County will not only have high-speed internet, but every park, grocery store, transit center and square inch of concrete will, too.
6.) The Durango La Plata Regional Airport will be the main hub throughout the area, taking clients from Farmington, Cortez and surrounding areas. Its cutting edge technology will make it the envy of the aeronautical world.
7.) Durango will get a minor league baseball team.
8.) The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Bar-D Chuckwagon and Purgatory will partner together to open a theme park like the world has never seen.
8.) Durango real estate prices will continue to rise.
9.) Bayfield and Ignacio will both have double the number of stoplights they have now.
10.) The “Bridge to Nowhere” will lead to the construction of a Target and a bunch of other retail shops, making Three Springs the “Jewel of Southwest Shopping and Industry.”
If I am correct on any of these, someone will have to buy me lunch in 20 years. I know that we have to embrace change. It’s coming – it all depends on how we react to it.
Jerome Bleger is the 2015-16 president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors and a broker for The Wells Group and can be reached at Jerome@wellsgroupdurango.com and 970-375-7004.