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Soccer complex remains goal of Santa Fe council, despite funding concerns

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday kicked around what’s to be done next regarding a resolution it passed last year to establish a regional soccer authority and build four new fields at the Municipal Recreation Sports complex, or MRC. What came out of it was the goal to get Santa Fe Public Schools involved.

“Had the schools opened up its sites early on, we may not be having this discussion,” said City Councilor Chris Rivera, who was the lead sponsor of the resolution.

Councilor Carmichael Dominguez was the first to bring SFPS into the discussion of the item, which was on the agenda as “informational only.”

“It’s interesting to me that as taxpayers we pay money to Santa Fe Public Schools for soccer fields, but we don’t have access,” he said. “These are taxpayer dollars, yet taxpayers don’t have access to things they are paying for.”

Dominguez said he thought it was important that SFPS to have “skin in the game.”

Contacted after the item had been discussed, SFPS Superintendent Veronica Garcia provided a statement to the Journal, saying, “SFPS currently partners with the City on various initiatives and we do our best to make our facilities available to the community. However, if there are ways we can enhance our partnership,  I’m open to exploring options for consideration to take to  our Board of Education.”

As it stands now, the state Legislature and Santa Fe County have agreed, with some conditions, to contribute $500,000 each for the construction of the Santa Fe Soccer Complex at the MRC, a project expected to cost $3 million. The remaining funding would come from the city, available grants and the private sector raised through a Santa Fe Soccer Authority, which would handle the day-to-day operations and maintenance at the complex. The soccer authority is set up to be governed by a board consisting of two representatives each from the city, county and local soccer leagues, plus one independent representative.

Where the city was going to come up with its share of the funding was also bounced around.

Parks Director Rob Carter said paying for it out of the Parks Department’s $18.2 million budget would hamstring weed removal efforts, which the council has already identified as a priority.

City Manager Brian Snyder said the budget for capital improvement projects is set for the next five years and while the soccer complex is on the CIP list, it is currently unfunded. Changing that would require projects to be “shuffled around and reprioritized,” he said.

While funding, SFPS’s potential involvement and the make up of the soccer authority still need to be worked out, Mayor pro tem Signe Lindell, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Mayor Javier Gonzales, said no one was saying they didn’t like the project. “We’re only hearing how to pay for it and where the $3 million will come from,” she said.