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Construction of landmark park ongoing

Construction has begun on the planned Campus Park in City Center, with heavy equipment moving soil and changing the level of the ground.
Photo Argen Duncan/Observer

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Construction of the first phase of Campus Park, planned as an iconic outdoor event venue, is underway.

The park site is the 5.6-acre dip in the land bordered by Market Street, King Boulevard, Main Street and Civic Center Circle, across the street from City Hall. The first phase will develop almost 4 acres and is expected to finish next spring.

“I’m just really excited to see this community meeting space come together,” said Mayor Gregg Hull. “It’s been long overdue to see growth in City Center.”

A second senior center, extension of Broadmoor Boulevard and an orthopaedic center at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center are coming to City Center as well. Hull hopes the investment from public entities will stimulate further investment by private organizations in the area.

According to city documentation, the first phase of Campus Park includes the Sky Room, designed as a unique performance venue and amphitheater, as well as event lawns, pedestrian paths and plazas, two shade structures and landscaping. It will also have its own parking and restrooms.

This is the Sky Room performance venue planned for Campus Park.
Courtesy rendering

“The space will serve as a destination and gathering spot for people taking part in city special events, small concert performances and more,” according to city information. “On a daily basis, the park will be a destination for college students, employees and residents in the area to walk, exercise, study and enjoy the outdoors.”

Hull wants to host a lot of festivals in the park, aiming to stimulate growth as more activities draw in more people.

City spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia said with the exception of the event lawns, the park will be landscaped with drought-tolerant plants known to grow well here. The lawns will take up just more than half an acre.

The city awarded the contract to design the park to MRWM Landscape Architects Ltd. in August 2018. The construction work went out for bids last August, but only one company responded, with an estimate far above what was in the budget, according to city information.

So, the city canceled the bid and worked with architects on changing the design and prioritizing features. The project went out for bid again in February, and T.A. Cole and Sons General Contractors Inc. won the bid.

Construction will cost about $2.96 million, plus almost $228,000 in gross receipts tax, for a total of around $3.19 million, according to the city. Funding sources are:

  • $2.5 million from the Rio Rancho Higher Education Facilities Gross Receipts Tax, since the park will serve the Central New Mexico Community College and University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center campuses in City Center;
  • $70,000 from the general fund;
  • A little more than $363,000 from economic development clawback payments, made when a company doesn’t reach the goals it set when receiving incentives from the city;
  • Just over $232,000 from the 1 Percent of the Arts portion of general obligation bond proceeds; and
  • Almost $39,000 from bikeway and trail impact fees, paid by developers to cover system-level infrastructure improvements needed to serve their developments.

According to the city, the second phase of the park would cost an estimated $1.8 million. There’s no timeline for that work.

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