A photo-shopped version of what the south wall might look like.

When Patagonia Visitor Center lost its location at Mariposa Books & More last year, it also lost its visibility. Since then, it’s been housed at Metamorphosis Gallery on Naugle, which is only open a few days a week.

In a new collaborative effort, Patagonia Regional Times (PRT) and the Patagonia Area Business Association (PABA), which is in charge of the Visitor’s Center, have rented the space on the corner of Third and McKeown, owned by Ted Piper. Borderlands Restoration also shares space in the building.

The new location is ideal for a Visitor’s Center, as it is visible to anyone who enters town. And for PRT, having an office provides a more public presence and makes the newspaper more readily accessible to readers and contributors. Although PRT staff will continue to work outside the office for the most part, there will often be a PRT staff member on site. It is anticipated that the space will not only offer information to visitors, but could become an informative source for the newspaper, a welcoming place to stop in and share some news.

The Visitor’s Center will expand its role, and plans to offer information on businesses from Elgin to Nogales, as well as community resources, activities and events. The many uses to which this space might contribute are still being explored.

The idea for this venture can be credited to Ann Katzenbach, PRT Co-Editor, who has also had a major role in cleaning, painting and furnishing the office. She saw the benefit of having a tangible space for the newspaper, and approached PABA in an effort to interest them in becoming a part of it. She and PABA President, Heather Dodge, have worked out a plan that seems to benefit all parties.

The Regional Visitor’s Center is an important asset for town businesses—informing tourists and promoting our area. It requires reliable volunteers who are familiar with Santa Cruz County. Already several people have signed up, but many more will be needed. Until May 31, the center will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then until mid-September, it will just be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Heather Dodge, who volunteered to coordinate this effort, has not worked out a schedule of shifts, but would like to hear from anyone who can spare a few hours, a morning or afternoon, during the week or weekend. The space has WiFi and a front porch and will soon have greater curb appeal with bird feeders, hanging flower baskets and comfortable seating. So if you’ve been looking for something to do to support the community, volunteering at the new Regional Visitor’s Center might be just right for you.

There’s also a wish list of furniture and equipment. It’s not a big space, but we will need a locking file cabinet, a few office chairs with casters, a 9″ x 12″ area rug, a love seat or arm chair, some desks or work tables, a bulletin board, a dry erase white board, and a desk top computer to display slide shows.

PRT plans to open the new office and Regional Visitor’s Center on March 13, with a reception that evening. If you are a member of PABA, please come and see how your membership dues are being put to work.

If you want to volunteer or donate, please get in touch with Heather Dodge at 520-732-0598 (hsdodge712@gmail.com) or Ann Katzenbach at 360-385-9771 (annmkat@gmail.com).