DEL NORTE — Marty and Bonnie Asplin have been staples in the Del Norte community for many years and have helped bring dreams to life by supporting economic growth throughout the region. Earlier this month, they announced they would be stepping down as contractors for the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED) organization, and many thought that meant the two community leaders were done. That was not the case.
“We are stepping back but we are far from being done working in the communities around the Valley. We have too many loose ends to tie up before that day ever comes. I think more so, we are shifting our focus to the housing issues here in the Valley and will be working with the San Luis Valley Housing Authority to see what we can do about bringing affordable housing to the area,” Bonnie said.
Throughout the past six or so years, the powerhouse couple has helped bring several projects to completion through their contracting expertise and plan to put that effort toward continuing to help communities throughout the Valley become places where people want to live.
“We want people to move here yes, but more, we want to create communities where people who grew up here, can stay here,” Marty said.
One of their biggest accomplishments through URGED was the opening of the Del Norte Playwave and River Park. This project was in the works for almost 10 years. The Asplins brought all the key people to the table with URGED and the project took flight and became an instant success.
“We just brought all the right people together and started working through what was holding the project up. In this case, it was financial matters but in other cases it sometimes comes down to municipal codes, correct permitting and land-use matters. There is a way around these issues that hold up most projects from ever getting off the ground and we were the ones who came in and helped with that,” Marty said.
Now the Del Norte Playwave brings people to the area that otherwise may not have come. Not only does it offer something to do while in town, but it gives people access to the river.
“We looked at what our assets were and low and behold, we had an abundance of recreational opportunities here," Marty said. "We have access to thousands of acres of public land and a flat river that people wanted to access. We used that and marketed it and through the help of several partners, opened it up last summer. It was amazing to see the community come out and enjoy a day on the river. Some days, there were so many people having fun, it would stop traffic on the bridge.”
Marty and Bonnie have also helped with the remodel of the Rio Grande Hospital, helped Proximity Malt in Monte Vista get established, built the River Valley Inn Nursing Home in Del Norte, found funding for the Ski Hi events center building, brought in Continuum Partners and helped drive the conversation of economic growth in the Valley.
“We have agreed to now help with the San Luis Valley Housing Authority who just finished their housing needs assessment. We have several desirable communities, recreation, everything a person could want here in the Valley, but now we need housing,” Marty said.
The couple has their hands in other projects but will continue for the time being with URGED until their replacement is found. For more information, visit www.URG-ED.com.