down town estes park 2022

Dana Paiement

Group Sales Manager, Visit Estes Park

dana-paiement-headshot.jpg

"My husband and I moved to Estes Park in 2018 after I accepted a position to work at the Ridgeline Hotel. We moved into staff housing onsite, one bedroom, about 500 square feet. This was a huge change from our 2,500 square foot home we had in Virginia. We absolutely fell in love with the beauty and community of Estes Park. We made some great lifelong friends who had small children. Feeling that we had such a great support system and great friends with kids to hang out with, we decided this was where we wanted to raise a family.

We found out we were pregnant in 2019 and decided quickly we needed more space to live.  We found a realtor and began our search. Coming from Virginia we thought our budget should afford us something decent. We quickly realized we would need to nearly double it to even find a condo or townhome, not our dream home with an outdoor area or yard for the kids to run and play in. Desperate to get moved in before the baby was born we settled on a small townhome located next to a busy road, not exactly where I pictured raising kids.

After talking with our friends in Estes Park they suggested I go ahead and get on every waiting list I could for childcare. I thought “what, you can’t be serious, before the baby is even born?”  This seemed absurd to me, but I went ahead and contacted EVICS to get a list of local daycare options. I called the three options they gave me to find out they either weren’t adding anymore to their waiting list or it was one-two years long.

My husband was a special ed teacher in Virginia, but once we realized the desperate need for childcare we decided he should continue working nights as a bartender and I would work days.  Surely we could both work full time and care for our children on opposite schedules. This lasted a few months before we decided my husband would need to cut back his hours in order to care for our son.

We read in the paper about an infant child care facility opening. I called and got on the waiting list. Unfortunately the project fell through and this never became an option for us.

I called periodically to see if any childcare options had opened up. Finally when our son was 1.5 years old, we received a call from a local provider! Our son went there for about three months before her husband passed away suddenly and she closed her business.

One after another our friends with kids started to move away. Some to the valley, others further away. We decided we really wanted to have another child and also get our son into a facility that was educationally based. We dreamed of having a yard or outdoor space where our kids could play and I could teach them about gardening, something I’m very passionate about. Knowing that we could not manage to have two children at home with no childcare we decided it was time to start looking down the hill for housing.

My husband had grown very close to his work family in Estes Park and thought he would continue to commute. He did this for about six months during the winter and decided driving the canyon at night was not safe and he needed to say goodbye to his friends and find employment down the hill.

I now commute to Estes Park from the Valley to continue to work here. We wish we could have stayed in Estes Park to raise our kids, but the lack of affordable housing and childcare forced us to move away."

Pledge to vote in the November 2022 election to demonstrate your commitment to the workforce in Estes Park.