By Owen Woods | email@example.com
WHAT do the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan and the town of Moffat have in common? Lots, and lots – and lots – of weed. So much marijuana, in fact, that a proposal to change the name of the town to “Kush” was brought to the board of trustees. The board held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the pros and – and mostly cons – of such a change.
Mike Biggio, co-founder of Area 420, one of the largest marijuana grow operations in Colorado, proposed the name change.
It’s far too early to make any kind of official vote, but Tuesday night’s meeting was certainly a vector for change and discussion.
The board of trustees sped through their old business, as the town hall was packed with people who came for one reason.
The board was pleased to see so many people at the town hall, which was a rare sight, they said. But as public comment opened for the business at hand, emotions ran high.
Moffat Mayor Cassandra Foxx allowed the public to raise concerns one by one. Later in the evening, trustee Rico Ellis said that the night felt like “the Wild West” in the sense that seeing everyone come together in a historic building to discuss the future of the town was a sight to behold. The cowboy hats helped enhance that image.
The history of Moffat and the town’s identity were the largest, most vocal reasons cited against the change.
(For history buffs: Moffat was established in 1890 by the San Luis Town and Improvement Company and in its early years attracted many settlers. It was a major cattle-shipping point on the narrow gauge Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.The town was named after David H. Moffat, a Denver railroad financier and industrialist who was president of the railroad at the time.)
Logistics of titles and street addresses followed close behind. The hypothetical renaming of the Moffat Consolidated Schools to Kush Consolidated Schools was also a large concern for many residents. Heavier reasons such as “unfathomable financial risks,” with “detrimental implications,” were given by longtime residents.
Melinda Meyers opposed the name “Kush,” but jokingly said that “Haze is much better.” She went on to talk about how branding is important, but said that “Moffat is like a third-world country,” due to the lack of infrastructure.
Arguments in favor of the name change ranged from economic growth, tourism, and an evolving identity. One resident said that there’s a history of changing the name of the town to what made it profitable, and that “we are stepping into the future.”
The “Napa Valley of Cannabis,” was one reason Biggio and Area 420 gave when they proposed the name change.
David Torres said that the proposal wasn’t done with malice or disrespect, but “in the spirit of agriculture.” He was the first to note something invaluable: Getting people together and having a discussion. Residents who were divided on the name change were all in agreement that the discussion was well-needed.
“This is the best turnout I’ve seen during my time in Moffat,” said Foxx.
After public comment, the floor was open to trustees. Longstanding board member Ken Skoglund said that he opposed the change and felt that he was outnumbered by everyone on the board, but added that the town needs Area 420 and needs to promote it. He also said that he’s worked closely with Area 420 and Biggio, but that “this is the first time I’ve disagreed with Mike.”
The marijuana industry has boomed in Saguache County, but has had its fair share of promising ventures shutter their businesses within a year or two. Area 420 holds strong. Skoglund was in favor of ensuring that Area 420 continues conducting business.
Mayor Foxx said that Moffat is a place she didn’t know she needed and the sense of community and open space is unique to the town. “There’s different ways to honor history without keeping things exactly the same. I’m not sure what that could mean for Moffat, but I do know that heritage and tradition evolve and adapt as time moves on.”
Passions moved from the town’s name change to agenda posting, and before the evening got too late, Mayor Foxx adjourned the meeting.
But where does that leave the name change proposal? Well, nowhere for right now. Tuesday night’s meeting was just for public comment, and there may be further discussions in the future. There was no ordinance designated or any official date to put it to a vote. For now it will sit at the table until a later date.
A small favor:
Alamosa Citizen is committed to informing and engaging the people of the San Luis Valley. Unlike many other sites, the Citizen makes its journalism available to everyone to read, regardless of what they can afford to pay. We do this because we believed informed citizens create better communities.
If you like what you’ve seen and heard so far, please become an AlamosaCitizen.com member. We have no out-of-town shareholders or billionaire owners. Your membership makes our reporting possible, and keeps it free for all to access. Your support will make all the difference.