I love our community. When Frank DeAngelis was here, to talk about the Columbine shootings and their aftermath, he remarked that Moab is the finest community that he has ever seen! What we have here is priceless!
Although I’m writing about two non-partisan issues that I know that we can make some really helpful inroads on, I’m quite obviously concerned. And I am far from alone about this. Sure, some people have already started on some bright ideas regarding these issues (like affordable housing solutions). But let’s continue to put our heads together and make them happen.
The first issue I am concerned about is our tourism economy. I think that it can work just fine. However, as it is, it is not sustainable. (There have been times when I’ve wondered if our tourism economy is a ‘runaway truck’, hurtling out of control. However, I truly do believe that we can still shape this growth. It will take a concerted effort, though.) There is no lack of really good thinkers in our town. So let’s do some good thinking and set things up that work for us in the long run. (For example: a community that our children would want, and can afford, to raise their children in.)
When I participated in the Downtown Plan workshop, I was definitely taken aback by something. This something was that we residents and our community seemed to be something of an afterthought in the planning process. Now is the time for your voices to be heard.
There has been plenty written on how National Park gateway (and other tourism-based) communities have solved similar issues. Judy Powers, in her guest editorial this past spring, mentioned Asheville, NC. That is definitely a good place to start but there are other ones, too. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel at all.
Perhaps we can start by writing down the qualities that we want to maintain here. (Qualities like: a safe community for ourselves, our children, and our elders; a healthy ecosystem, which includes at base clean water and clean air; or whatever is important to you.) This will give us each a handy gauge from which we can base every action that we take.
Water, that brings me to the second issue. When Powell led his expedition out into these western lands, he warned the young Anglo nation that, west of the Mississippi, there was more land than water. This is especially true in our high desert region.
The USGS study has already told us that we have less water than we think. Hopefully now as their final results are available, and water rights are reassessed, we will be able to do some careful budgeting of our water resource. (And no longer continue to develop like there’s no end to this resource.)
As it sits, I have to wonder if we haven’t just set ourselves up for another boom-and-bust cycle. Let’s set things in motion in a way that’ll work for years to come. Our community is a treasure. Please let’s not eclipse this precious asset with our immediate needs, as distracting as they can be sometimes.
–MB Tatsy Guild