Photo by Ty Belknap
Bernalillo mayor Patricia Chávez presents
Martha Liebert with a plaque at the grand opening and rededication
ceremony of the Martha Liebert Public Library.
Martha Liebert Public Library rededicated
Mayor Patricia A. Chávez, library director Juanita Montaño,
and the library board hosted a grand opening and rededication of
the Bernalillo Martha Liebert Public Library on Wednesday, June
21. “I see this facility as a center of learning. The initial
visionary efforts of Martha Liebert, unquestionably a pioneer, has
evolved into a valuable community resource—a dedicated place
not only to gather information but also to exchange ideas that expand
the mind,” Mayor Chavéz stated.
The facility was rededicated in the name of town resident Martha
Liebert, who as a volunteer established Bernalillo’s first
public library in 1965. Liebert served the community as librarian
from 1965 until her retirement in 1990. The Bernalillo Public Library
was initially dedicated in her name in 1985, but the designation
was lost when the public library was moved to Roosevelt Elementary.
The library, under the directorship of Juanita Montaño
since 1995, has been housed in several public facilities including
Bernalillo Town Hall, and most recently in shared space at Roosevelt
Elementary School. The new facility is at 124 Calle Malinche and
officially opened to the public on May 22. Service hours are Mondays
through Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.
to 2:00 p.m. The public can enjoy an expanded, six-computer station
with Internet access, a media center, and a Southwest Collection/Artworks
The new facility is constructed in a hacienda style, with early
territorial accents common to the Bernalillo area and in compliance
with the character-design guidelines of the Town of Bernalillo Main
Street Overlay Ordinance. “The library was designed by town
staff to fit appropriately in a residential neighborhood and to
reflect the architectural styles of the traditional houses and historic
Roosevelt Elementary that surround the new facility,” said
Maria Rinaldi, community-development director for the town.
For further information, contact the Bernalillo
Martha Liebert Public Library, at 867-1440.
Sandia Pueblo well served despite Abramoff
—LAWRENCE R. GUTIERREZ, GOVERNOR, PUEBLO OF SANDIA
SANDIA PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO, JUNE 23, 2006—As the report of
the Senate Indian Affairs Committee notes, in 2002 the Pueblo of
Sandia retained the Greenberg Traurig law firm, where Jack Abramoff
worked, and Michael Scanlon’s political consulting firm. These
firms were engaged in connection with the Pueblo’s efforts
to secure Congressional ratification of a settlement of its longstanding
claim to Sandia Mountain, a matter of the utmost religious and cultural
importance to our Pueblo. The Pueblo’s efforts were ultimately
successful—thanks to the steadfast resolve of the Pueblo’s
leadership, the support of numerous individuals, groups, and government
officials at the local level, and the hard work of Senators Bingaman
and Domenici, Congresswoman Wilson, and our entire Congressional
delegation. A true consensus ultimately emerged for the settlement.
The Pueblo greatly appreciates the work done by the Committee
in reporting on the unconscionable behavior of Mr. Abramoff and
Mr. Scanlon in their dealings with various tribes, including the
Pueblo of Sandia. The Pueblo was pleased to cooperate fully with
the Committee and is outraged by what the Committee uncovered. In
exposing the dealings of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, the Committee
performed an important service to tribes and to the country.
County revises Placitas subdivision ordinance
On June 2 the Sandoval County Commission voted unanimously to adopt
revisions to the county subdivision ordinance, dealing specifically
with summary subdivision and family-transfer exemptions in Placitas.
On February 2, in an attempt to better control residential development,
the commission had approved a 120-day moratorium on these relaxed
provisions of the subdivision ordinance, to allow time for the Planning
and Zoning Commission to work on changes without being flooded with
last-minute applications. P&Z conducted two well-attended and
contentious public hearings and recommended changes to the county
The changes to summary subdivisions included a requirement for
public hearings, notification of adjoining property owners, a grading-and-drainage
plan to be submitted to the county engineer, and a water-availability
assessment to be reviewed by the Office of the State Engineer.
Changes in family-transfer exemptions also require public-hearing
notification to adjoining property owners. In addition, subdividers
using this exemption are now required to file sworn and notarized
statements that ensure that land transfers will be used by family
members for their own residential use and not as a part of a development
At prior public hearings, developers and private landowners complained
that the revisions would make small summary subdivisions prohibitively
expensive. Comment at the June 2 meeting centered on the inevitable
delays resulting from dealing with the Office of the State Engineer.
It was pointed out that the smaller the subdivision, the greater
the added expense, hurting private landowners more than professional
Prior to voting in favor of the changes, the commissioners agreed
that the revisions were not perfect and that they would review the
ordinance annually to see how it is working.
New Bernalillo Streetscape draft design plan for
part of Camino del Pueblo calls for two-lane traffic.
Bernalillo Streetscape plan sparks controversy
Director of community development Maria Rinaldi was not expecting
the flood of public opposition that dominated the June 12 Bernalillo
Streetscape meeting. Business owners and residents of Camino del
Pueblo were outraged at the idea of reducing their street from four
lanes to two lanes.
“It was supposed to be a constructive design workshop where
townspeople view a conceptual design that resulted from previous
workshops. Public input was sought to modify that design if that’s
what people wanted,” Rinaldi said. She further explained that
there would be a good deal more public process before a design was
approved and that no date had been set for construction to begin.
The draft design calls for reducing the flow of traffic from four
lanes to two lanes on Camino del Pueblo from Avenida Bernalillo
to Calle Presidente. A landscaped median would be interspersed with
left- and U-turn lanes. Numerous pedestrian crosswalks would include
park benches, trash containers, hydrants, and sidewalk lighting.
Sidewalks would be widened to eight feet for easy access to electrical-cable
and water lines and enhanced with decorative brick accents. A parking
lane would be eight and a half feet wide (increasing overall parking
spaces by two), the driving lane would be fifteen feet wide (wide
enough for a car and a bicycle.)
“The town has be diligent in getting funding for this project
form the Federal Highway Administration. These funds can only be
used for the Streetscape project. It would be negligent of us to
not take advantage of this opportunity to address pedestrian safety
issues, comply with regulations to be accessible to the handicapped,
and at the same time beautify and improve economic development,”
Opponents say that the draft design will accomplish none of these
things. They circulated a petition asking Mayor Chávez to
reject the plan “because of numerous safety issues as well
as the negative impact on business and the overall community.”
The petition specifies the following areas of concern:
• Too much traffic for two lanes.
• Emergency vehicles would not be able to get through traffic.
• U-turn locations would create traffic hazards and congestion.
• Overall traffic volume would not decrease, but would shift
to residential streets, creating safety hazards at numerous places
•Two lanes would make it more difficult for anyone trying
to turn onto Main Street, including school buses and residents
trying to get to work or to local businesses.
•Two lanes would likely lessen the total number of cars,
but at the same time increase density, causing more congestion
and more frustration for residents wanting to get from point A
to point B.
•Less traffic and difficult ingress and egress is bad for
•Negative impact on San Lorenzo Fiesta.
Department of Transportation District district lead traffic engineer
Tony Abo told the Signpost that the DOT had some concerns about
how the left and U-turn lanes would work and that the preliminary
plan needed some fine-tuning. He said it was a jurisdictional issue
and that the DOT would go along with the two-lane issue as long
as the town understood the ramifications. “There is a limited
amount of width available. You can’t have four lanes, a median,
parking lanes, and a wider sidewalk. Residents of Bernalillo need
to come to some consensus about priorities,” Abo explained.
He said that so far he did not see a clear consensus for or against
the proposed plan.
Concerning accommodating increased traffic on Camino del Pueblo
caused by traffic snarls on US 550 and I-25, he said, “The
town shouldn’t be penalized for occasional incidents. The
community has to decide whether they want to provide a convenient
shortcut for commuters or if they want an attractive main street
that is pedestrian-friendly. The proposed plan might weed out some
drivers looking for a shortcut and encourage others to shop and
spend more time in the community.”
The next Streetscape-design workshop had not been scheduled as
of Signpost print date. The proposed plan is displayed in the town-council
chambers, and public input questionnaires are available.
Maria Rinaldi declined to comment on the concerns outlined in
the petition. She said that they would be considered along with
other public input.
Groundbreaking for new Rio Rancho City Hall
The City of Rio Rancho announced the groundbreaking for construction
of the new city hall in City Centre, across the street from the
Multi-Purpose Event Center. Gerald Martin starts construction this
month on the city hall and anticipates a twelve-month project.
Several distinctive design and aesthetic features included in
the project are traditional Southwest images translated into contemporary
motif, transitional indoor-outdoor spaces and low-maintenance zinc
metal skin. The project also achieved valuable energy efficiency
through glazing, geothermal heating and cooling, and higher insulation
values that will substantially lower building-operating expenses.
The city intends to occupy the new building late next summer and
celebrate with a grand-opening ceremony in August 2007.
Pete David Salazar
Sandoval County election returns
Election officials' opinions of voter turnout in the June primary
ranged from awful to dismal, but that didn't stop the winners from
accepting their nominations.
“I want to thank people who went out to vote,” Placitas
resident Pete David Salazar said. “There weren't that many,
but I'm especially grateful to them.”
Salazar won the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat
on the Sandoval County Commission, representing Placitas, Bernalillo,
and a far-northeast neighborhood in Rio Rancho. Orlando Lucero defeated
three other Democrats for his party's District 1 nomination.
Both candidates said they expect to knock on a lot of doors before
the November 7 general election.
“I love to talk to people,” Lucero, a Bernalillo educator,
said. “I'm excited.
“I'll be out there beating the bushes.”
Overall, about seventy-eight hundred Sandoval County residents
voted, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans about 2.5 to 1. That's
out of fifty-one thousand registered voters.
The District 1 race was the most crowded on the ballot, as six
candidates from Placitas, Bernalillo, and Sandia Pueblo vied to
succeed incumbent Commissioner William Sapien, who is reaching his
term limit after two four-year terms.
Lucero won his nomination with 594 votes, defeating Patrick Baca
(486), Margaret Palumbo (236) and Jean Eichberger (182). Salazar
eked out a twenty-three-vote win over Gary Miles, 232 to 209.
The closest race came in the Democrats’ contest for probate
judge, where Placitas attorney Stevan Schoen and former Bernalillo
mayor Charles Aguilar tied with 2,056 votes apiece while Jerard
Misquez finished third. Ten days later, when fifty-two provisional
paper ballots used by voters who didn't appear on precinct rosters
were opened, Aguilar pulled ahead by ten votes.
His Republican opponent in the general election will be Judy Kwapich
Madril, who ran unopposed.
The only other contested county-level race was the Democrats’
contest for magistrate judge Division 3. There Delilah Montaño-Baca
defeated incumbent Magistrate Richard Zanotti and William Mast.
The Republican magistrate judge Division 3 candidate is Mary O.
Kwapich, the current probate judge.
Rehabilitation planned for Piedra Liza Dam
Rehabilitation construction is anticipated this fall on the Piedra
Liza Dam according to Roger Ford, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation
Service planning engineer. The Town of Bernalillo and Sandoval County
are partnering with the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District
on the project.
“This small but important dam does not meet current design
standards,” said Ford. “While the dam is in very good
condition, it was designed and built fifty years ago. Since then,
design standards have become more stringent.”
In preparation for actual rehabilitation construction, the sponsors
applied to the USDA-NRCS for rehabilitation assistance, and an investigation
of the need for rehabilitation was completed and a watershed plan
prepared. A plan and environmental assessment were completed in
June 2005. Engineering designs were prepared, and the three sponsors
and New Mexico Dam Safety Bureau are reviewing the final design.
In addition, the sponsors are in the process of obtaining land rights,
and Sandoval County emergency-management personnel are completing
an emergency action plan.
The Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District, Town of Bernalillo,
and Sandoval County have secured their 10 percent of the project
costs. Sixty-five percent of the funding will be federal provided
by NRCS, and 25 percent will be state funds provided by the Dam
The project will include the installation of the roller-compacted
concrete revetment on the downstream exit slope of the auxiliary
spillway, improved principal spillway and outlet structures, and
access to the dam from Highway 165,” said Ford.
The sponsors will jointly operate and maintain the dam throughout
For further information about the Piedra Liza
Dam project, contact Roger Ford, at 505-761-4430.
The Coronado SWCD board of supervisors meets at 9:00 a.m. on the
third Thursday of every month at the First Community Bank in Bernalillo.
The public is welcome and invited to attend meetings for informational
purposes. To find out more or to be placed on the agenda, please
call Chairman Tony Lucero, at 867-4563.
Carroll Elementary School art teacher, Gary Sanchez
(right), stands while students from his art class and BPS officials
pose on the Rail Runner train. These students were among the winners
of the Rail Runner Calendar art contest.
Rail Runner commuter service starts on July 14
Passenger rail service returns to Bernalillo for the first time
in decades when the New Mexico Rail Runner Express begins commuter
service to Albuquerque on July 14.
The first departure from the U.S. 550 station somewhere around
6:00 a.m. that Friday is expected to be a quiet affair. Formal ceremonies
are not scheduled until early on the afternoon of Monday, July 17,
when Governor Bill Richardson and others lead a mobile celebration
from the U.S, 550 station down the tracks to Albuquerque.
The event begins in Bernalillo for good reason, according to Augusta
Meyers, Rail Runner communications manager.
“Sandoval County gave $10 million for a train,” Meyers
said. “It's only appropriate they get some time and recognition.”
The $10 million came from payments the county received for acting
as middleman in the $16 billion Intel bond issue in 2004.
Initially, Rail Runner's only stops will be U.S 550/Bernalillo,
Los Ranchos, and downtown Albuquerque. Additional stations, including
one in downtown Bernalillo, are under construction or waiting to
go to bid, and service to and from the southern terminal at Belen
won't begin until September after signals are installed between
Belen and Isleta.
Since the state took over the tracks in January, Rail Runner crews
have been learning the system, running frequently from Albuquerque
to Belen and back. Not all the trains have not been empty, however,
with the media, law enforcement, elected officials, and others riding
the 140-seat coaches or inspecting them at station events.
“We have been getting a lot of real favorable response from
the public,” Mid-Region Council of Governments executive director
Lawrence Rael said. “I'm excited and eager.”
Rael, citing renewed bus service between Rio Rancho and Albuquerque,
said he's pleased with the way communities are coming together on
“We're changing the way we view ourselves as a state and
as a region,” he said.
Passage on Rail Runner is free for the first three months and
$2 a ride after that through December 31. Regular fares will be
Also not determined is the Rail Runner schedule for the twenty-five-minute
run from Bernalillo to Albuquerque. A draft schedule for the U.S.
550 station posted on the Rail Runner Web site shows arrivals and
departures starting at 5:35 a.m., a midday train, and three late-afternoon
trains operating Monday through Friday.
A firm schedule is to be released soon, and Rael said it would
include municipal bus connections at Rail Runner stations. That
schedule, to be available in printed form and at www.nmrailrunner.com,
is to include connecting municipal bus service in Albuquerque.
When the project was first announced late in 2003, the state hoped
to have trains running by the end of 2005. Negotiating an outright
purchase instead of a lease of the BNSF Railway tracks delayed the
work and helped drive overall costs toward $400 million.
“We're still the fastest commuter-rail start-up in the country,”