Millions in funding in the pipeline for northern New Mexico - Albuquerque Journal

Millions in funding in the pipeline for northern New Mexico

The legislature is set to approve capital outlay money to go toward the Midtown campus in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico state Legislature will distribute millions of dollars in capital outlay funds to governments, organizations and entities across the state, including in northern New Mexico.

Once the Legislature passes the final version of the bill, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham can line-item veto certain projects. Those projects that make the cut will then receive state funding.

Here’s a look at some of the projects in northern New Mexico that could receive funding:

Española shelter

The Española Pathways Shelter opened its doors in early 2020 to address the homeless problem in the Española Valley, an area that has historically lacked resources for this population.

Now, the shelter stands to receive a sizeable amount of money – around $1.8 million – to expand its operations. That money would go toward acquiring the rest of the building that currently houses the shelter, a total area of around 15,000 square feet, Shelter Board Member Ralph Martinez said.

“We’ve been doing the work now for slightly over a year,” Martinez said. “The numbers that we’re seeing of individuals in need of just shelter alone is a little bit more tremendous than what we had anticipated.”

He said a larger building will allow the center to expand the services they offer, which could include those based on economic development.

The building’s assessed value is around $2.2 million, but Martinez said the owner is willing to sell it at $1.8 million, with the discount acting as a donation.

Santa Fe city projects

The city of Santa Fe is set to receive millions of dollars for multiple projects across the city.

One of the largest allocations would be $1.8 million for the Southside Teen Center. The city had originally requested $890,000, but is set to receive far more than that sum, which would be added to $6 million it has received for the center in previous legislative sessions.

Advocates have long highlighted the need for a teen center on the Southside, an area with less recreational infrastructure than other parts of the city.

The city could also receive $1 million for upgrades at the 64-acre Midtown campus, which is seen as an unprecedented economic opportunity for Santa Fe.

Plans for Midtown have been halted since the master developer, KDC Cienda, pulled out of the project in January, citing the campus’ crumbling infrastructure and “obsolete” buildings. In a proposal for the capital funding, the city wrote “the project would mitigate asbestos and lead present in facilities, and improve safety of utilities.”

The site has undergone numerous asbestos remediations over the past decade.

The city declined interview requests for this story and referred a reporter to Mayor Alan Webber’s Tuesday webcast, during which he mentioned the projects slated for funding.

“Rather than go for one big allocation, we went for a number of smaller projects,” Webber said. “The Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, the governor all gave us the things we asked for – and we can’t do better than that.”

The city would also receive money for park and road improvements across Santa Fe.

Cumbres and Toltec

One of the largest tourist attractions in northern New Mexico is also slated to receive money for much-needed repairs and comes as the tourism industry continues to crawl out of the economic struggles from COVID-19.

The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad could receive $1.1 million for repairs to its locomotives, famed for taking riders on scenic routes between Chama and Antonito, Colorado.

Cumbres and Toltec CEO Eric Mason said the railroad has not always received its requests for state funds, which has led to the company having to defer maintenance in prior years.

“It certainly takes quite a bit to keep a railroad running,” Mason said. “Particularly one that the majority of equipment is from the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

The money, he said, would go toward the maintenance of tracks and locomotive cars, which are co-owned and operated by the states of New Mexico and Colorado.

“It’s imperative,” he said. “It’s sort of a lifeblood of the organization to be able to maintain this historical asset for the states.”

The Cumbres and Toltec railroad was shut down in New Mexico for much of 2020 due to pandemic-related restrictions. Mason said they’ve recently started offering rides again and that demand has soared in recent weeks.

“Even if we compare it to a normal year, we’re seeing patterns that are above pace,” he said. “There is a huge population of people that love this railroad.”

State projects

Some of the largest allocations of funds would go to state facilities around the Santa Fe area.

That includes $5 million for construction of a new crime lab within city limits for the Department of Safety.

Various existing state-owned buildings would receive funds totalling more than $11 million for renovations. That includes $5 million for a new Educational Retirement Board building and $3.5 million for improvements at the New Mexico School for the Deaf and the James A. Little Theater.

Numerous water projects – from improvements to acequias to water and wastewater treatment facilities – are also in the pipeline for state funding.

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