We dont have problems, we have opportunities
For the last decade, downtown stakeholders wish list of improvements has included four projects that for various reasons were too tough to tackle.
First, Fort Lewis College wished for a more significant presence in the heart of downtown to promote student recruitment, campus tours, athletic programs, alumni programs, sales of Fort Lewis College retail and the Center of Southwest Studies. Not that FLC hasnt given it the old college try by operating the successful Community Concert Hall ticket office behind Magpies.
But, were a college town with a great college, and the entire community would benefit if every one of our thousands of visitors returned home recommending FLC and Durango.
The college is a major contributor to the local economy, and 1,000 additional students would indeed be a boost to our balance sheet.
Second, the downtown has wished for a centrally located, one-stop information center capable of promoting all Durango-area businesses, services, public and private facilities, lakes and national forests, area attractions, art and cultural venues, public transportation, colleges, sports and competitions, recreational amenities and the many special events held in the area.
Visit any successful tourism-driven city, and one will find a welcome center in the heart of the downtown. Why is that? Well, because by serving visitors informational needs, we are also serving our local economic needs.
The hundreds of thousands of tourists who pass through downtown Durango annually represent our best opportunity for improving current and future economic returns. And by coordinating with the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at Santa Rita Park, travelers of all types can be well-served.
Third, the Durango Area Tourism Office has for the last many years operated the downtown Visitor Kiosk during the summer. The kiosk has proved seasonally effective, but it is costly to own, operate and staff. We wished we could do better.
The fourth challenge was our visitors No. 1 complaint: no public restrooms along Main Avenue. Its a definite deficiency without a cost-effective solution.
Through collaborative discussion between the Business Improvement District, the FLC Board of Trustees, the FLC Foundation, the Durango Area Tourism Office, and the city of Durango, it was concluded that the most cost-effective approach to our individual wishes and challenges was a common solution.
If an ideal downtown location could be found, capital renovation funds committed, and operating budgets combined, then a year-round welcome center could become a reality.
The Durango Welcome Center is planned to open Memorial Day Weekend at Main Avenue and Eighth Street. The current occupant, Durango Music, is relocating to the old Canyon Music location on East Second Avenue.
The new Durango Welcome Center would be open daily to help walk-in visitors with visitor information, maps, sell tickets for FLC concerts and area attractions, make dinner reservations and promote all Durango businesses, services and amenities. Again, Durango collaboration pays off.
firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango and executive director of the Business Improvement District.