I have been reading newspaper articles, editorials and reading social media accounts of the Alamosa B.O.E.’s decision to sell the Polston property to a private citizen as opposed to a non-profit group. Based upon what I have read, and the questions I have asked, I believe the school board made the correct decision, both financially as well as aiding our community in the name of bringing more jobs to the valley and keeping kids in the seats of our schools, not to mention the possibility of generating and developing a greater enterprise zone.
The entire process is more complex then what it appears to be on the surface. I understand that Mr. Russell would have to pay for the property upon receipt, whereas the Rio Grande Garden group does not currently have funding in place, with the earliest time being seven months down the road, and if not then another five months after that.
Among taxes he will be paying will be lodging and tourism taxes, which is far greater than those of produce from a non-profit venue. My research showed lodging provides an additional 4 percent tax, along with the local taxes for that location. Mr. Russell would be responsible for paying 8.9-10.9 percent tax on every transaction, whereas a non-profit may not pay any future taxes on the property or the produce it produces, which is great for the recipient, but does not compete with the potential to be collected by a commercial enterprise such as Mr. Russell is proposing.
Another question I had asked was about the top soil. I believe Dan Russell may be willing to donate the fertile top soil. I think some virgin soil closer to the center of town would be more suitable and serve more of the community due to convenience alone. I understand that some other groups are willing to donate, yes, donate garden property, at no cost to the Rio Grande Gardeners. What bewilders me is that there was a school building as well as asphalt parking lots on a large portion of that property, and would it really be healthy to plant on top of that?
I am opposed to the proposition of a restaurant being funded through donations and non-profits in that area, as Wize Apples, Clancy’s, and True Grit, have had to raise their own money and put in their own blood sweat and tears to make their businesses a reality. The notion that some entity with larger pockets can come in and take their market share from the neighborhood they had a hand in developing through their own funds is troubling to me.
I believe the garden is a great idea and is an asset to this community. I do not believe that the Polston property is the ideal location for the garden, as it isn’t the last parcel of land in this city nor the surrounding area. As I look at the other garden property and the fact that at times it appears to be very unkempt is troubling to me as well. There is a parcel of land that lies between the Alamosa High School building and Wal-Mart, that has a half circle of agricultural land on it. If a garden would be placed in that area it would benefit the community as well as possibly the school district.
I think Dan will produce a product that will make our community proud and live up the name “The Gateway to the Great Sand Dunes.”