The path leading to a decade of an active, attractive modern Santa Fe Railyard was seldom smooth, especially in the years of discussion and planning before the park and plaza opened in 2008.
Now, 10 years later, the area is realizing its potential.
The Railyard Park thrives as a place where native plants flourish. Visitors and locals alike enjoy lush nature in the center of town, and kids love the playground: The park’s model of management, too, with the Railyard Park Conservancy and volunteer stewards, is one to emulate. Other city parks could use extra love and attention.
Over at the Railyard plaza, businesses are attracting shoppers, and the presence of the Violet Crown movie theater and REI outdoors store keeps a steady flow of people coming and going. There’s the all-important farmers market, which draws people from all over. People gather for coffee or good meals or to visit galleries or other businesses.
Intermittently, there are musical acts, movies, art shows and other events. The Santa Fe Railyard brings people together, just as its planners envisioned.
This, despite a recession that nearly derailed the project. In 2008, when the place opened, the country was on the verge of not just a bad economy but perhaps another Great Depression.
That meant the business spots at the Railyard did not fill up as anticipated. Rather than a booming area for shops and services, the place sat mighty empty for a spell.
With the movie house, restaurants and contemporary art scene now thriving at the Railyard, we can predict that the next 10 years will run more smoothly.
And this weekend, Santa Fe will be celebrating the anniversary of this remarkable public space. A Living History Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the park. On Sunday, more celebratory events follow. (Find all the details at www. railyardsantafe.com.)
That the Santa Fe Railyard is finding its balance today is testament to the stubborn nature of Santa Fe residents. They refused to see this former industrial area fill up with more hotels or other overly commercial uses.
Every time the development of the Railyard was discussed, citizens would remind their leaders that, no, that’s not what they wanted. People made it clear that they wanted mostly local businesses, space for trains and room to gather — all controlled by locals, not outside developers. This was a community-driven process.
The leaders listened — to be honest, they had to, citizens were so clear about their desires. And so the Santa Fe Railyard took off.
Ten years on, it’s worth celebrating.