The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Contractor David Vandriessche (right) supervises owner Fawn Dolan

Contractor David Vandriessche (right) supervises owner Fawn Dolan
and MainStreet Director Maria Rinaldi as they break ground on Vineyard Village. Designer Mat Day leans on his shovel (back left).

Vineyard Village celebrates groundbreaking

Mayor Charles Aguilar reminded guests at the February 18 Vineyard Village groundbreaking ceremony that the soon to be built condos would stand on the former site of the Bernalillo Hotel and Bar. The Mayor expressed his enthusiasm for the project, which he felt would add to the quality of life and traditions of Main Street (Camino del Pueblo).

The architectural style will reflect what is traditional in Bernalillo and other northern New Mexico communities. Cuttings from 125-year-old grapevines at the Old Convent in Bernalillo will cover a ramada in the condo commons area.

Project developer Fawn Dolan has been working for the last two years with the New Mexico Main Street Association and the Town of Bernalillo. She said, “The developers and the builder have worked together to create a project that will provide a housing option in the Bernalillo area, maximize the use of the space, and comply with the Main Street overlay and comprehensive zoning plans.” She said that the condo project near the corner of Camino del Pueblo and Avenida Bernalillo would provide a housing option that has not existed in decades.

“Compound living was a historical and traditional way of living in the past,” Dolan added. “We are recreating that concept with this project. Condo owners will be able to walk to galleries, restaurants, shops, and restaurants.”

The second phase of the project will include two thousand square feet of condominium retail and office space. Vineyard Village is being built by David Vandriessche of VanCon Inc. Sales and inquiries are handled by Porter Dees of REMAX Elite North. For more information, call 263-3662 or 867-9460.


UNM students to conduct market research on Placitas

Five seniors from the Anderson School of Business at the University of New Mexico will be conducting professional-level marketing research for La Puerta Real Estate Services in Placitas this semester. Cara Rogers, Jesse Korman, Tommy Franchini, Jason Caldwell, and Matt Darrall are all seniors at the university and will organize the research.

The project is for their 481 Marketing Research course at UNM, in which students were required to choose a local business that would be interested in having professional marketing research done for their company. The students chose La Puerta Real Estate Services, given that no formal research, to their knowledge, had been done on the Placitas market.

Placitas residents will receive a simple questionnaire via mail in March along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Recipients will be asked to fill out the questionnaire and return it within two weeks. As an incentive, a form will be included to enter participants into a drawing with a chance to win gift certificates good at local businesses.

All five students thank the community of Placitas for its participation and support.


Rec path group focuses on roadside trail for use

The second meeting of the Walking, Jogging, Biking and Equestrian Path Group will take place on March 2 at 6:00 p.m. at the Piñon Café in Homestead Village.

A successful first meeting took place on January 29. The general consensus was that the group should focus first on obtaining a trail adjacent to Highway 165 and leave other trails along other county roads for later in the project.

 From current research into projects of this type around the state, the most important starting point is a master plan for the Placitas area. This plan will be used by the highway department and other agencies to direct money toward the project.

The current proposal is to secure permission and funding for improving the old Placitas road that can be seen on the forest-service land west of the S-curve and next to the S-curve, then tying into a wide shoulder along the current Highway 165 both west and east of the S-curve where the terrain is too difficult to have a separate roadway. Considerable improvement is needed on the shoulder of the existing road to bring it up to biking standards. Equestrian use for accessing other trails is also being considered.

Paramount in the development of this project is to get the residents of the greater Placitas area to participate in the planning process. Community support is vital to getting the best bang for the buck from whatever funds are available. For more information, call D. Brinkerhoff at 771-0130.


©2004 Rudi Klimpert

Coming soon, a library in Placitas

Sue Strasia
Placitas Community Library

We have some great news! Pepi Strahl, a Realtor in Placitas, has just made available to the Placitas Library a (free) temporary place for the next six months. It is right near the Merc. We have lots of work to do ironing out all the bureaucratic complexities but hope to be open very soon. Once we are open for fifteen hours a week for six months, we are eligible for funding opportunities through the state department.

It’s a start.

Our backup plan is to move in the Las Huertas area and begin operating out of a mobile home. In the meantime we are checking out a parcel of land on Tunnel Springs Road and highway 165. This land requires a zoning change from residential to a special-use permit that must have the approval of the neighbors. As a result, we conducted a neighborhood meeting for those whom the library location would directly impact. Everyone in attendance was supportive. We have obtained a six-month hold on the Tunnel Springs parcel and must find a potential funding source to see this through.

Placitas has three community services: roads, fire stations, and a senior center. It’s been over twenty years since the last attempt at having a library died in this community, and the main reason was space and funding. Placitas needs permanent space and funding for a well-equipped library that is readily accessible. This includes Internet access, participating in the interlibrary loan program, and a meeting place.

Our vision goes beyond a library. We are striving to develop a stronger sense of community within the Placitas area, a place open and inviting where people can drop in, relax, browse, network, and share commonalties. We want to begin with a library as a home base and add on to it later, as funding becomes available.

Imagine a library, museum, meeting place, and a music studio, built in a circular fashion that faces towards an inner courtyard and on the far perimeter a small covered amphitheater. As you pull up a chair to watch a local student group put on a series of skits, you face the magnificent and towering Sandias as a backdrop. Young and old exchange greetings and come together for friendship and sharing.

Come join in our work parties every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm during the month of March. We're located west of the Merc, in the first building on the left-hand side of Tierra Madre. Look in the April Signpost for our grand-opening announcement. If you’re interested in helping, joining, visiting, or donating to, the Placitas library, contact:


A Navajo slave

A Navajo slave

Spirit drum, by John Hellquist

Spirit drum, by Joan Hellquist


SC Historical society lecture, book signing, art exhibit

On March 28, the Sandoval County Historical Society will present “Slave Trade in New Mexico and Colorado.” The speaker will be state historian Estevan Rael-Galvez, an expert on the subject.

The featured artist for the presentation will be Joan Hellquist, who will be exhibiting her spirit drums. Joan paints the drums “to project their spirit both visually as well as through the resonance of their sound.”

On April 25, the society will hold a book sale and signing for Marc Simmons’s new series of juvenile books, with illustrator Ron Kil.

Both programs will be held at 3:00 p.m. at the Sandoval County Historical Society on DeLavy Road, next to the Coronado Monument in Bernalillo. The program is free and open to the public. For further information, call 867-2755.


County community services director Phil Rios shows

County community services director Phil Rios shows
Congresswoman Heather Wilson around El Zócalo

$2.3 million renovation for El Zócalo approved

Bill Diven

El Zócalo, the historic former church property in Bernalillo, is about to enter the third phase of its long life.

Dating to the late 1800s, the three-acre site on Camino del Pueblo was home to the Sisters of Loretto convent, extensive orchards, and local schools run by the Catholic sisters and brothers. After the property passed through two private owners, Sandoval County bought it last year from preservationist Terry Lamm and plans to begin renovations in September.

During a recent tour of the site, county community services director Phil Rios said the convent building will get about $100,000 in mechanical upgrades, with few changes to the building itself. Tourism and economic-development offices will occupy part of the building, with the rest available for community events, he said.

Most of the structural work will be done to adobe outbuildings and the two-story former Our Lady of Sorrows high school, which will receive an elevator to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Plans for the former school and adjacent buildings include the existing Montessori school, a new-business incubator, meeting space, and possibly a co-op art gallery and other private businesses and the planting of a small orchard.

Total cost, including buying the property, is listed at $2.3 million, including a $1.4 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration. Renovation work is expected to be completed in June 2005.

“I’m a sucker for historic preservation,” Representative Heather Wilson, R-NM, told the Signpost during the tour. “I think it’s great. It will be wonderful to bring it back to full life.”


Workshops and field trips planned with LPA

—Las Placitas Association

The Las Placitas Association Drought Gardening Workshop in February was a great success. Twenty-five people enjoyed the speakers, Peggy Wells and Aspen Evans, who covered an amazing amount of information in three hours. There was a Tourism Association of New Mexico presentation on drought-tolerant plants and a discussion of the importance of collecting rainwater and storm water on your land (and mechanisms). They passed out an extensive plant list and information about our dying piñon pines, and they talked about mulch and dealing with our difficult soil conditions. Below is a list of other events planned in March and April. Details are still being planned for workshops and field trips through November, so please visit our calendar for updates at

March 20—WELL AND SEPTIC-TANK WORKSHOP. All about taking care of your well and septic tank. We'll learn about how to maximize the useful life of a well and septic system and prevent premature failure. We hope to offer free water testing for pH, conductivity, nitrate, sulfate, iron, and fluoride in water from private wells. 9 a.m. to noon, Placitas Community Center.


THE PLACITAS OPEN SPACE. A bike tour led by Ty Belknap and Gene McClain. Get to know the Placitas Open Space and all that it has to offer. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the West Access at 8:45 a.m.

April 17—PLACITAS ACEQUIA WORKSHOP. Jose A. Rivera, local author of Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community will speak and then the group will board a bus and tour the three Placitas acequias. 9 a.m. to noon, Placitas Community Center.

April 24—MIGRATORY AND NESTING BIRDS OF PLACITAS OPEN SPACE. Led by bird expert and author Hart Schwarz. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water and a snack. No pets on this hike, please. 8:30 am to noon. Meet at the East Access at 8:15 a.m.


Historian to speak on old New Mexico

West Mesa Branch of the American Association of University Women will hold its annual fund-raiser on Saturday, March 13, at 11:30 a.m. at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales. The program will feature luncheon and a talk by Robert J. Torrez, a former New Mexico state historian, who has conducted original research on the history and culture of New Mexico for more than thirty years and has published more than a hundred scholarly and popular articles in national and regional journals. Torrez will speak on the topic “Tales of Life in Old New Mexico.” Admission is $20, and guests are welcome. The cost of this event is not tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

AAUW welcomes women and men college graduates who are interested in promoting education, advancing the status of women, and continuing their own intellectual growth. Call Pat at 792-4916 for more information or to make a reservation. While AAUW encourages reservations by Tuesday, March 9, walk-ins are welcome.






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