ALAMOSA — After a unanimous vote on Thursday the Alamosa County Local Marketing District Board approved sending a letter of support for the Rio Bravo RV Resort to Alamosa City Council. The motion came after Randy Wright, executive director of Alamosa County Economic Development Corporation, gave a presentation to the board about the scope of the project and economic impact.
“It is going to be significant just in tax base,” Wright said. “Just with this project alone it will easily be near a quarter of a million dollar tax base for everybody.”
As the ACEDC executive director, Wright is acting as a community liaison between the public and resort partners. The board also approved at its Thursday meeting its $5,000 annual dues to ACEDC, which houses both the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce and San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center. Valley Courier Publish Keith Cerny is the chairman of the ACEDC board.
Along with Alamosa architect Don Spencer, the other RV resort partners are Durango resident Chris Manfredonia, who owns the private land near the golf course, and local RV enthusiasts Michael Fischer and Eric Olsen of E.L.M LLP. The proposed 65-acre resort near Cattails Golf Course will be a franchise location of Coast to Coast RV Resorts, but the company will not own it.
The discussion focused on Wright explaining how RV capacity at Great Sand Dunes National Park is limited and how he has talked to community members to address their concerns. According to Wright the number of RVs camping overnight at the national park as gone up 139 percent and visitation has gone up 101 percent since 2013.
Currently the park has 88 sites for tents and RVs that are 35 feet long or smaller. Sites must be reserved at least four days in advance and the remaining spots are first-come, first-served. There are no electrical, sewer or water hookups provided for RVs but a dump station and water hoses are available.
To compare, the proposed resort would have sites 100 feet long with hookups and amenities such as a clubhouse and pool.
“The RV resort is not going to even put a dent in what we really need,” Wright said. “I think we need 1,000 spaces...We need to be ready for this and you guys have worked as a board for literally generations to try to get the people from the Sand Dunes to come to Alamosa. It’s an age-old question we’ve never really solved. This gives us a chance to start solving that.”
Board member Matt Abbey agreed and said this will help solidify Alamosa as a hub.
“Alamosa has established itself as the epicenter for commercial activity and hotels,” said Abbey. “This is new territory. So we can either own it to the benefit of the local economy, businesses and restaurants or fail to own it.”
“[Opponents] all want what Pagosa, Durango and Salida have but they’re not willing to give what Pagosa, Durango and Salida have given to get it,” Wright said. “We’re getting there now.”
Though the specifics and redrawn proposal are still in flux, the partners are looking to downsize the resort to between 300 and 400 spaces. Additionally, based on public input, the property will be moved away from wildlife habitats and trails. The disc golf course’s road and parking lot will remain open to the public and paved.
“These guys are definitely listening to the community,” Wright said. “If the community has strong pushback or concerns, they have listened and made changes as we’ve gone on.”
Members of the resort can stay at the location for two weeks without extra out-of-pocket costs and it has been suggested to include Cattails Golf Course memberships into the package.
Right now 50 public spaces are planned for non-members. The membership doesn’t pay county’s lodging tax, which the marketing board distributes with grants, but the 50 public spaces will.
“What’s great about it is that it provides a whole different market for us for lodging that we haven’t had,” said board member Jeff Owsley.
If the final proposal includes 400 spaces, roughly 1,000 people would be added to the population with an average of 2.5 people per RV. “That’s a Rails and Ales every day,” Abbey said. Additionally, though a portion of the resort will be closed in the winter, it will add an average of 17 full-time jobs.
A meeting between the community and partners to discuss the resort will be held Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at The Barn at La Manzanilla at 6491 Colorado State Highway 17. A separate meeting for homeowners near the golf course is in the works. The public can also comment on the proposal online at cityofalamosa.org/alamosarv