Tico Time owner defends park against complaints, says changes are coming
Rob Holmes says he has made good-faith efforts to address issues raised by neighbors
- Holmes said he will have only one fireworks show next summer on the Fourth of July.
- He also plans to have only half as much live music as he did this summer.
- He said he already has taken steps to weed out guests who behave unacceptably.
Part two of a series
FARMINGTON — Rob Holmes, the owner of the Tico Time River Resort in northern San Juan County, acknowledges the validity of many of the complaints he has heard from neighbors of his business, a 74-acre RV and camping park that offers outdoor recreation activities and live music.
But he insists he has made a good-faith effort to address those issues, and he said he doesn't think most nearby residents share those frustrations with his business.
"The rest of the neighbors like what we are doing," he said, adding that he has made admission to the park complimentary for those residents — a perk many of them have taken advantage of this summer.
Holmes said he has taken steps to mitigate the volume of the park's live music, even purchasing a set of heavy-duty curtains to hang from the back of the stage that he hoped would muffle some of the noise. That addition had little effect, he said, but he continues to try other avenues, including banning the use of drums after 11 p.m., moving the fireworks shows up to 9:30 p.m. and limiting the kind of P.A. equipment that can be used.
Despite those efforts, he said he knows there is only so much he can do without eliminating concerts from his menu of offerings.
"You can barely hear the music at the neighbors' houses, but they're out in the country and it bugs them they can hear anything," he said.
Judy and Lynn Bryson, and Bob Shindledecker, Tico Time neighbors who have lodged numerous complaints about the park this summer with county officials, likely would take strong exception to that assessment. But Holmes said he has more changes planned next summer that he hopes will satisfy them. He plans to limit the fireworks to Fourth of July weekend, and he plans to offer only half as much live music as he has this summer.
He also said he already has taken steps to weed out the guests who have pushed the envelope of acceptable behavior.
"We had to start kicking people out," he said, explaining that when he opened the park, he never anticipated that he would have a problem with public nudity or people relieving themselves in the river.
In any event, those cases have given the park a black eye, he said, and Holmes is eager to turn attention to what he said is the positive atmosphere he has crafted at Tico Time.
"We've had roughly 20,000 people this year that have had an amazing time with their kids and friends," he said. "I don't think that should be discounted. Overall, everything that's going on here is amazing."
Holmes recounted the joy he felt at seeing 60 children on stage singing and dancing during the Tico Time reggae festival earlier this year. He regrets that heartwarming moments such as those have been overshadowed by the conflict with his neighbors.
"I've seen huge crowds crying and experiencing emotional things," he said. "These festivals are not just a bunch of people raging and partying."
What the future holds
Tico Time has two more festivals planned over the next two weekends before the season essentially ends because of the onset of fall — a country festival set for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 and the Four Corners Christian Celebration Fundraiser planned for Oct. 8-10.
The park also held its inaugural Soberfest, an alcohol- and drug-free festival that served as a fundraiser for the Animas Alano Club, the weekend of Sept. 23-26. Holmes said the event held special meaning for him, as he has been sober and in recovery for 19 years.
He said he hoped to use the festival as a launching pad for the birth of a new nonprofit organization, Pura Vida for Recovery, which will open recovery and sober living centers in Farmington and Durango, Colorado. Holmes estimated it will take up to $2 million and perhaps four years to make that dream a reality.
In the meantime, he said additional capital improvements are planned at Tico Time, including additional landscaping that will be highlighted by the planting of 80 large trees.
"We started with all the fun stuff," he said. "Now, we want to make the place look really manicured and nice in the next year or two."
County Manager Mike Stark and County Commissioner Steve Lanier have visited the park themselves and said they consider it an excellent example of the kind of outdoor recreation business the county needs as part of the effort to diversify the local economy.
They agreed with Holmes' claim that he has made an earnest effort to address the complaints of neighbors, and Lanier said he has heard from many supporters of the park in Aztec and Bloomfield who frequent Tico Time on weekends and have attended many of its concerts.
While the numerous complaints about Tico Time certainly have added to San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari's workload, he said he believes the park's owner is willing to make substantive changes to address those issues.
"I don't think Tico Time has drawn their line in the sand and is saying, 'We're going to do this no matter what,'" he said.
Judy Bryson, on the other hand, worries that county officials are afraid of alienating a business that is generating much-needed tax revenue.
"They're elected to take care of all of us," she said. "It's like we're a bunch of old farts out here, and they're just trying to wear us down. … We've tried our best to get some relief from these people."
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.