The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

THE GAUNTLET

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letters, opinions, editorials

The Signpost welcomes letters of opinion to encourage dialog in the community. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.

re: bumper-to-bumper traffic

I've lived in Placitas since 1989 and remember when there was only a stop sign on Exit 242 at the flyover ramp. I simply don't understand why Tony Abbo can't do anything about this problem, more than "study it". Consider this:

(1) Huge expanding RR housing developments off 528 continue to grow rapidly; giant multifamily units are being built near Home Depot; large residential areas are being developed where Price's Dairy was, etc., etc., etc. These people commute through the Bernalillo town corridor to get to I-25. It's their only access to I-25 for miles. This all means more traffic exiting the huge north end of fast-developing Rio Rancho.

(2) The Rail Runner commuter-train parking area near Exit 242 will add more traffic. What is the county commission thinking about traffic problems? Or do they have brains? This means more traffic packed into an already bumper-to-bumper area in the Bernalillo corridor.

(3)The Anasazi Trails-Anasazi Meadows subdevelopment will bring in at least three hundred more residences, not to mention construction traffic in the process, to Exit 242/I-25—in addition to expanding subdevelopments at the western edge of Placitas (which still remains the stepchild to Bernalillo), in a five-mile radius from the Bernalilllo city center, and lost in space beyond that in a huge Sandoval County, covering more than eight hundred square miles. This all means more traffic exiting Placitas all the time—every day.

(4) La Farge Gravel Company has expanded, and with it, more slow gravel trucks. The lease on all of this land is on-going and renewable. The gravel itself will not be played out for several more years. You already know about the power plays between gravel trucks coming off the frontage road and Placitas cars trying to get onto southbound I-25, as well as cars coming from the West Side trying to get onto I-25 north.

It's pathetic. What does it take to get TV media coverage real-time between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. each weekday? The Coors area does deserve attention, but this problem deserves more.

Development exceeds road capacity. Simple. Solving the problem apparently exceeds NMDOT, local, and county infrastructure and funding. Why? We don't need endless studies; we all know that growth is out of control. Simple. And the problem is moving at the speed of light every time another house is sold in this area. Instead of studies, why can't the state get federal dollars to fix it starting now? It isn't going away.

Study that, Tony Abbo.

—CHRIS HUBER, Placitas

re: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW????

Am I the only resident of Placitas who thinks we need a cell tower out here????? Once you pass Homestead Village, your phone won't pick up a signal. I live in the last home in Placitas before you enter the national forest, and I see so many people hiking out for help because they have some sort of emergency and can't call 911. It's a matter of public safety, not just a “convenience.” If you agree with me, let's make some noise about this!

No dial tone....

—BARBARA TIBBETS, Placitas


re: lack of county support for recreational land in Placitas

A number of Placitas residents have been having ongoing dialogues with Sandoval County officials over the last two years regarding obtaining recreational facilities. Commissioner Sapien has met with us and has been supportive of the idea.

Unfortunately, it appears that county administration, including Mike Springfield and Debbie Hays, is less enthusiastic. The county commissioners approved the purchase of sixteen acres of land for the new Placitas Library and recreational facilities, dependent on available funds. However, it is my understanding that Debbie Hays has only approved purchase of four acres for the building of the Placitas Library. The land was generously offered to the county at $20,000 per acre for the sixteen-acre lot. I doubt that the county will ever again have a chance to purchase land at this price. I have tried to contact both Debbie Hays and Mike Springfield to discuss the issue, but my calls have not been returned. The county administration continues to ignore the Placitas citizens and I wonder what actions are required to obtain recreation facilities for the children and adults of the area.

Do we need to form a county or a tax-assessment zone or could we have influence if the Placitas citizens formed a political action committee? Residents should consider turning out in force for the June 6 primary, in hopes of getting a county commissioner from Placitas. I hope that the citizens will express their support of obtaining recreational facilities by contacting the Sandoval County administration and urging the county to buy all sixteen acres of land.

—JOHN WILLS, Placitas

re: paving Placitas

Although it was stated that there was no opposition to the paving of Camino de San Francisco, we who did oppose it feel it is important that we explain our position and comment on the political funding process.

As residents for more than thirty years, we have sadly watched as Placitas has been overrun with development and loss of open space, especially during the last ten. Our area, northeast of the village, has grown much more slowly; most homes have been built or contracted by the owners and there is a sense of space and old growth. Diamond Tail has been the only major development, and they have been environmentally sensitive and careful to preserve open space.

We accepted driving on our dirt roads many thousands of times, and put up with the dust and washboards. To those who complained of potholes in the article, we have driven the road for over thirty years and have never seen a pothole. During the last few years, as we observed the “paving of Placitas,” our dirt road seemed to add protection for the wild and rural life, qualities which cannot help but be diminished by increased development. Now that Tecolote and San Francisco are paved, we can drive more easily, our cars are less dirty and air filters cleaner, our shocks less shocked. But we are hoping that the increased ease of road travel is not the invitation for dense development.

We need to respond to remarks made by Bill Sapien and others in the Signpost article. If “no opposition” was noted before the funds were solicited, it was because the nays were not acknowledged. There was a petition circulated that asked whether the road should be paved or not. Many residents were not polled. Those opposed were unaware that funding was being requested, or that our county commissioner, Bill Sapien, had been approached and was bringing the matter before the state legislature. To our knowledge, only the interest group had been informed of this process.

Finally, after the fact, a meeting was held at the county courthouse to inform the public of the plans. Only word of mouth was used to inform residents of the date and time of the meeting. At that time, director of public works Phil Rios respectfully answered the concerns of the many residents who objected to the paving for a wide range of reasons, including safety issues, but it was already a done deal.

It is clear that the neighbors who were against the paving of San Francisco were in the minority, but we do exist and are a significant number of people who have lived here for many years. As taxpayers, we feel that this process should have been more inclusive, with more official public notification.

If we are to be accused of holding onto the values and priorities of retaining the rural character of the area, staving off rapid development, worrying about speeding on narrow and winding roads, being concerned for increased water use, providing range for wild horses, coyotes, etc., we are guilty as charged. The person who feels that there will be no increased traffic on the road now that it has been paved, has never heard the expression ”Build it and they will come.”

—DAISY KATES AND LAURA ROBBINS, Placitas

Heard Around the West

—BETSY MARSTON
MONTANA—Every year, as many as 700 deer collide with cars in Montana's Ravalli County - so many that the roadsides reek to high heaven. It's a big problem, made worse by the fact that growing populations of both deer and people have reduced the number of places where deer carcasses can be "discreetly dumped," according to the Ravalli Republic. It costs the county $135 every time it hauls dead deer to a landfill in Missoula. But there's a surprisingly inexpensive solution available, and everybody involved is raving about it—composting. Doug Moeller, a maintenance chief for the state's Department of Transportation, learned how to do the job at a workshop in Maine, and came back a true believer. Although Scott Reeseman, the local supervisor who has to maintain the compost pile, told himself at the beginning, "Oh, man, this is gonna be ugly," he says now, "It hasn't been that bad." This is how the pilot project works: High-carbon materials—wood chips, for example—are heaped a foot high on an asphalt bed. The deer carcasses are piled on this, and then more chips, sawdust or chipped tree trimmings—all delivered free—are layered on top. This heats the pile up to 150 degrees; when the temperature drops, the carcasses must be turned over. The process takes three months, but when it's over, there's no more decomposing deer, just compost. So far, the county has composted 511 animals, and in a fitting gesture, plans to use the resulting black dirt along Montana roadsides.

WYOMING AND AFGHANISTAN—Sometimes, low-tech warfare is the way to go. In high-altitude Afghanistan, helicopters are being replaced in some areas by donkeys. That is where rural Wyoming comes in: Thirty-one soldiers in the Army's 10th Mountain Division recently spent a week in a barn near Powell, learning the ways of donkeys. The soldiers got hands-on instruction—including some "buck-offs"—in packing and unpacking the animals, tying and untying knots, and other skills. Donkeys and mules are expected to be valuable in Afghanistan because they're unobtrusive and can ferry people and equipment over 16,000-foot passes—2,000 feet higher than an Army helicopter can fly, reports The Associated Press.

THE WEST—“Obsolete, offensive and obscure” bumper stickers are for sale by Earth First! Journal, at the bargain rate of 50 cents each or four for $1, while supplies last. Here's a sampling: "Pregnancy: Another Deadly Sexually Transmitted Disease," "Hunters: Did a cow get your elk?" and, "I'll Take My Beef Poached, Thanks." The magazine can be reached at P.O. Box 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702.

CALIFORNIA—Arthur Winston, a Los Angeles bus maintenance worker who made news by finally retiring on his 100th birthday, died just a few weeks later. He missed only one day of work, reports The New York Times, and that was in 1988, when his wife of 65 years died. Winston said he'd thought about retiring three decades ago, but kept working to support family members who wanted to go to college or otherwise needed money. Winston had hoped to use his free bus pass to explore the city and perhaps volunteer: "I'll be on the move," he promised. "I'm not going to sit and mope in the house."

MONTANA— Butte, Mont., boasts a restored brothel, an Evel Knievel Days for motorcycle buffs, and now, a moneymaking tourist attraction: the 900-foot-deep Berkeley Pit. This is the pit that began filling with acid-mine drainage from copper mines in 1982, and now holds some 36 billion gallons of water "laden with arsenic, copper, cadmium, cobalt, iron and zinc," reports AP. That's the bad news. The good news is that the Chamber of Commerce has discovered a gold mine in this toxic stew. The chamber began charging tourists $1 last year to see the pit, and made almost $20,000 in only four months. This year, it raised the admission price to $2, and plans to make the Superfund site even more attractive to visitors. The azure-blue waters of the pit and its mining history might fascinate the paying customers, but the place can be deadly for the unwary. In 1995, 342 migrating snow geese made the mistake of touching down on the pit's tainted waters. All died before they could fly away.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (Betsym@hcn.org). Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

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