Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Around Town

Bernalillo Town Council notes

—Karen Lermuseaux

All councilors were present for the January 14 Town Council meeting, but public attendance was again very sparse. Major issues involved the application for the Affordable Housing project, including the 99-year land lease and the donation of assets to the development project.

Maria Rinaldi and Ed Romero presented for approval the application for Village in the Bosque Development. Romero represents the Santa Fe Civic, operating on behalf of the Town in the development. The proposal includes increasing the number of units to ninety, with thirty new additions, sixty houses rehabilitated, and eight removed. This will be done on the existing 9.59 acres within the boundaries of the current housing development. The Town will be donating the land and wells (approximately $1.5 million in value ) which will result in approximately $500,000 in tax credits that will be turned back to Santa Fe Civic which will make the improvements. The lease agreement must be completed prior to MFA approval of the project. If the tax credits and money for the project are not acquired, the lease would be dropped. Project approval is expected by April 2013 and construction could begin in July. The project should take about two years to complete.

Councilor Santiago Montoya voiced concern over special needs families who have not been given information about the project. Mr. Romero requested names and addresses and assured the council that these families will be contacted. Mayor Torres reminded all that this project will include medium income housing. The proposal was unanimously approved by the council.

Mayor Torres announced that he had met with Acting Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Church to discuss topics including striping of main street, driveway permit requests, and other issues. Further meetings will occur to address these and other issues.

Maria Rinaldi advised the council of the pending resolution regarding CBDG (Community Development Block Grant) application—which is proposed to complete Phase 2 of the infrastructure plan for the Cocinitas neighborhood and consider solid waste concerns in the same area. She also said that a new feature in town newsletter will focus on town departments to keep the residents informed about duties of each department and to acknowledge staff for their work.

Mayor Torres recognized several employees for their time and effort during the Coats For Kids and school supplies projects as well as ongoing Town of Bernalillo administrative support. Certificates of appreciation went to: Fernando Lomas who was the driving force and came up with the idea for the school supply drive. Paula Pierce who helped with both projects, and is appreciated for her positive energy in greeting and helping people make their business connections as they enter city hall. Yolanda Mora  who was also a tremendous help in both projects. Ida Fierro who always performs above and beyond in her role as Town Clerk. Linda Lippold was recognized for all of her help on the projects, as well as recent completion of IRS forms W2 for last year.

c. Rudi Klimpert

Paging Through The Past
Signpost article reprints from twenty years ago

Highway Department reverses historic decision on Las Huertas Canyon Road

—Marion Davidson

Upper Las Huertas Canyon was loaded with snow that day. A little band of skiers sat on plastic sandwich bags on the frosty benches in Balsam Glade Picnic Ground. The snow was so high that our legs stretched out in front, someone said like a Japanese restaurant. One of those tall-eared squirrels hung out in the background, waiting for our leftovers, and the jays screamed at us from the fir trees that surrounded the snowy table. Ellen, the botanist on the expedition, had helped us work out a mnemonic for identifying firs—“f”—f ir, f lat (needles); f riendly (soft unlike spruce); f urrowed (bark).

On the way back up the road from the burn we had seen a New Mexico maple, bare except for a few seed pods attached to wing-like structures for aid, I guess, in perpetrating their species. I wonder how this little maple would like the fact that one more bureaucracy has joined the clack that wants to “improve” its narrow dirt road.

That’s right! At the December meeting of the New Mexico Highway Commission, the commissioners voted unanimously to reverse their historic position on the Las Huertas Canyon Road. For many years the commission’s policy basically has been to ignore the road: no plowing in the winter, minimal maintenance during the rest of the year. In 1988, the commission voted to abandon the road altogether, seeing no reason to maintain such a costly situation, especially given the fact that no one lived along it most of the time, and that it provided no critical links between communities. The decision to abandon was greeted with a lawsuit by the little group of upper-canyon landowners, and the Highway Department agreed to put the road back on the system.

At the December meeting of the commission, Bob Gurule, the public works director of the city of Albuquerque, argued that the Las Huertas Road should be kept open during the winter months because of the “importance of economic development.” Commissioner Cox then moved that the road be kept open during the winter, and that a study on the subject be initiated prior to next winter. Motion carried unanimously.

For years, the senator from the East Mountain area engineered a memorial through the legislature directing the Highway Department to plow the road in the winter. The Highway Department and the recently retired engineer for this District simply ignored the directive, since there was no additional funding appropriated for this $300,000 task. Since this particular senator was defeated in recent elections, the City of Albuquerque is apparently the new advocate for keeping the road open in the winter for important commercial reasons. (The upper-canyon landowners argued in their appeal that four-season commercial activities included commercial Christmas-tree sales among other things).

It seemed to me on that day of skiing that the most lucrative activity on that road in the winter is just what was happening—cross-country skiing. We had a great day skiing down the road a good piece and back up past Capulin Picnic Area, where the upper canyon appears so abruptly that the trail is marked with a large sign bearing an enormous exclamation point and then a fifty-foot precipice straight down and then silence and the steel-grey walls of the canyon muted in the cloudy night. Coming back, I kept falling and the snow was so deep that Kafka came to mind as I lay there on my back working my four extremities to get up.

How ‘bout this, folks: leave it alone, this incredible nordic ski area. No studies needed, no $300,000 to plow each winter, no gates, no fees, no staff. The ski shops are making money on gear and most important, the canyon on a good day feeds the furnace of our hearts.

This article and cartoon were reprinted from The Placitas Signpost, February 1993.

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