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Governing body awards A Park Above bid on split vote

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Construction of the first phase of an all-inclusive park in Rio Rancho has the go-ahead, but that hasn’t stopped the controversy.

At the Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting Wednesday, city councilors voted 4-2 to award a bid for construction of the first phase of A Park Above. The park is designed with special features to allow people of all ages with and without disabilities to play together.

Councilors Tim Crum, Tamara Gutierrez, Mark Scott and Patricia Thomas voted to award the $657,000 contract to Rio Rancho contractor BLC Enterprises Inc. Councilors Chuck Wilkins and Lonnie Clayton opposed the move.

City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Jay Hart said the first phase would include a basketball court, a walking trail, part of the planned shade structures, a play feature and a group picnic area.

About $2 million has been set aside for A Park Above, with about $1.5 million coming from the state and the rest from the City of Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and several private entities. All of the money was specifically earmarked for A Park Above.

“This is going to be fabulous,” Crum said.

He said 91 entities are supporting creation of the park.

Wilkins said he wasn’t voting against disabled children, but he had to make sure tax money was used in the best way because it was in short supply.

A Park Above is another park to maintain, to higher standards than other parks, Wilkins continued, and the city has 42 other parks that need to be made Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

“We could probably do all our parks for $2 million, $3 million,” Wilkins said.

Scott said as a city councilor, he often must look at two bad decisions and choose one.

In other business, governing body members voted to:

  • Award a $1.4 million contract to TLC Plumbing to begin replacing inferior polyethylene water service lines with copper pipes. Public Works Director Scott Sensanbaugher said the contract would mandate the replacement of 550 service lines in 210 days, starting at the end of March;
  • Accept the audit for the last fiscal year. Interim Financial Services Director Marta Ortiz said auditors found one problem, involving underpaying some employees for mileage and per diem, that wasn’t a “material weakness,” meaning it wasn’t serious;
  • Amend the impact fee capital improvement plan for the Stonegate, Melon Ridge and Solcito subdivisions;
  • Allow zoning to be realigned in the Hawk Site Subdivision;
  • Rezone land in the Milagro Mesa and Solcito area to a higher-density residential designation;
  • Adopted the Sandoval County Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Rio Rancho All Hazard Emergency Operations Plan; and
  • Approve submission of a grant application in hopes of getting a $46,000, two-year grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The money would pay for water audits to help citizens learn how to conserve water to save on their water bills.

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