J. R. Ford, speaking on behalf of the Pagosa Springs Downtown Task Force, made a proposal at the late April town council meeting to renovate the pocket park on the corner of Pagosa Street and Hot Springs Boulevard and to christen the spot Goodman Park.
“We have a family that has been in our community for a long time,” Ford began. “One business has been owned by the Goodman family since 1900, and I think it’s important in a small town to recognize when people have made that kind of commitment to their community.”
According to the information packet Ford handed out to the council, the roots of the Goodman family in Pagosa Springs date back to 1900 with the arrival of Dave Lowenstein, who started a store at what is now the corner of Fourth Street and U.S. 160. After his passing, Dave’s daughter, Hortense, took over operation of the store, and when she married Louis Goodman in 1922, the store became Goodman’s Department Store. Hayley Goodman, who recently took over the operation of the store, is the fifth generation of her family to manage it.
“For a few years I have been working on an idea for a little park,” said Ford, “and I can see the overlook area from my office — a place where people could walk up to a screen and tap a hot button to see the parks in our community, or another button might be for the biking or horseback trails in the area, or fishing areas. Or they could hop on there and get educational stuff like why we did the river restoration work in town and on the private ranches up and down the river, or as far as what we are doing with the forest now.”
Ford is in the process of starting a business that will harvest biomass from the surrounding forest and, through a gasification process, convert it into fuel to generate electricity.
“So, I can see a screen there,” Ford continued, “where somebody can come up and learn a lot about our community while they are visiting, even if it is just for a couple of hours while they stop to eat in a restaurant. I see it as being more of an informational park, as well as being dedicated to the Goodman family for the commitment they have made to our community for all these years.
“I am committed to raising the money. There are other contractors that have agreed to help me put the concrete in, put the sign in, match the stonework that you guys have already used with the signs there on the corner, clean that park up a little bit more, and put in this interactive screen.
“That’s my request. I’ve worked with the Pagosa Springs Downtown Task Force and they all thought it was a good idea. I’ll raise money from some of the local merchants in town who said they would help with this project if it goes through. I have not discussed this with Mr. and Mrs. Goodman; I was trying to keep it quiet for a while, but I know by coming into this meeting, that’s all out the door.”
“Just one question,” said council member Kathie Lattin. “Will you or your committee or the downtown task force keep everything updated on it as future info comes in, or how will that work?”
“What I see,” Ford clarified, “is I would be willing to pay to have a little video put in about the historic value of the Goodman family and maybe a video series on the river work and what happened there. Some of the other stuff, like on the trail system, I was hoping the council or some of these other groups would step up and produce those videos. Those were just ideas; I’m not saying they have to be on there, but I am hoping local groups — those interested in biking, for example — would put those on there. That way they would have more accurate information.”
“We have contacted Jennie Green at the TTC (Town Tourism Committee),” Shari Pierce from the downtown task force added, “regarding keeping this updated and trying to use similar technology to what they wanted to use.”
The TTC has discussed purchasing several interactive flat screen TVs for the visitor center and various other locations around town, to help provide information to tourists.
Council member Tracy Bunning made a motion to accept Ford’s proposal to establish Goodman Park and the motion was unanimously approved, with several council members expressing their gratitude to Ford, Pierce and Green.