Helping White Rock

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By Ralph Damiani

Last week, the county council met to discuss plans and proposals for White Rock.

While that community needs assistance, care must be taken on just what is spent there. If the county thinks that just building buildings will bring in business, it does not understand economics.

However, there is a word for us all to consider here, and it could really be the key to the White Rock discussion.

And that word is Bandelier.

Bandelier National Monument officials said that 250,000-300,000 visit the site each year and there is really no good way in or out of there – save through White Rock.

If the county could capture only 10-20 percent of that number, the economy would boom.

That needs to be the focus of economic development there. It should be for Bandelier, about Bandelier and of Bandelier.

Like Roswell and the UFOs, we have to ride the horse you have.

The biggest problem is that the short road there is just a 45 mph shoot on one’s way to Santa Fe. We have to slow tourists down and show them something to stop for.

What we don’t need there is a library. What we do need is some kind of museum or cultural center. People who go to Bandelier are interested in that. They would stop.

What we don’t need are condos. We are not going to get tourists to stop to look at homes. What we do need are specialty shops, first-class restaurants and such. Tourists would stop for that.

What we don’t need there is a grocery store. Visitors from Bandelier are not interested in shopping for milk. What we need is a fancy visitor’s center, a place that will direct folks up the hill to our fantastic museums in the town site. Travelers will stop for that.

The county needs to transform the highway into a city street, with parking, attractions and walkways, and a park for picnics.

We must create a pedestrian-friendly area, with eye-catching amenities. People will come for that.

If not, we have just wasted $20 million.