Tourism board discusses helping museum reopen


By Joe Napolitan

Staff Writer

According to the agenda brief shared during the Pagosa Springs Area Tourism Board meeting on Tuesday, May 11, a board member of the Pagosa Springs History Museum reached out to Tourism Director Jennifer Green in search of funds for operational expenses to reopen this year.

“They’re struggling with how to reopen the museum, especially after being closed last year with COVID,” Green stated during the meeting. “What they are asking for at that time is not necessarily a funding mechanism that we have in place.”

The museum’s website states, “we are not supported by any governmental entity and rely on donations and sales from our gift shop to pay for our employees, insurance, supplies, and utilities.”

The agenda brief outlines that the funding applications of the tourism board are limited to events or infrastructure only. As a nonprofit, the museum is not eligible to receive funding for operational expenses from the tourism board and previous requests have been denied.

“I just wanted to bring this to the board,” Green said. “If you guys want to get creative, maybe consider the museum as an event and have them apply for event funding the same way as you do the farmers market or if there’s some other way you guys would be willing to help guide them.”

Green goes on to point out that with the permanent closure of the Fred Harman Art Museum, the Pagosa Springs History Museum would be the only museum available in town if it were open.

Mayor Don Volger pointed out that the farmers market is treated as an event, and shares more functional similarities to the seasonal museum than any other event. 

“Do we need to redefine in some form or fashion for funding?” asked the mayor.

“I think that’s hard to compare because does the museum have numbers? How many people go there?” asked board member Julian Caler. “I know it’s an important thing to have in our town, but I see tons of people go to the farmers market. That’s something that’s very active every weekend and I don’t think the museum can be compared to that.”

“I would just encourage any of you who haven’t been there, it is really worthwhile,” board member Jon Johnson said. “I wish they had some greater funds and ability to market because I think that it’s an underutilized resource that we have. I think it might be beneficial [to find out] what kind of ask there would be and what those funds would go to maybe at the next meeting.”

Green indicated she plans to reach out to the museum board to arrange for a formal request so that further discussion can take place during the tourism board’s June meeting.

Board considers disc golf signage at Cloman

The tourism board also further discussed its April approval of funding for the Disc Golf Club. 

The agenda brief states that, during the April meeting, $5,300 was approved to complete tee boxes for Cloman Park.

“When I met with the disc golf club after, they really wanted to prioritize signage out at Cloman over the tee boxes,” Green said. “Given that you guys specified the tee boxes, I wanted to bring this back before you.”

Green continued, “There are tee boxes; they’re rustic, but they work. Signage is definitely a missing component — it’s extremely easy to get lost out there. That would make the course more usable and perhaps in a future request they can focus on upgrading the tee boxes.”

Green explained that the proposed signage will likely be arranged using wood and concrete. The proposed designs are detailed watercolor renderings similar to the style of signs seen at ski areas and would include the disc golf and Leave No Trace logos.

“I would like to see one get done. Let’s get signs and tee boxes in at one location and then move on rather than separating it out,” Caler said, referring to splitting the improvements between both courses at Cloman Park and Reservoir Hill.

“The disc golf club wants to prioritize Cloman over Reservoir Hill,” Green clarified.

“The only thing that makes a system a system is consistent signage and branding because otherwise it’s just a pile of trails that you’ve built and tee boxes,” board member Michael Whiting said. “Signage is critical, shifting the look and feel towards alignment with the rest of our sign program, I think that’s a given.”

Green went on to say that she will make sure the county is on board before any funds are dispensed.