Growing Rio Rancho’s economy and improving neighborhood road conditions were near the top of a list of priorities created during this week’s public city strategic planning meeting.
Between 20 and 30 residents participated during Tuesday’s strategic planning meeting, held at Loma Colorado Main Library. The evening event was created by the city and hosted by Patrick Ibarra of the Mejorando Group. Residents at the event responded to three questions: what do you most enjoy about Rio Rancho, what are Rio Rancho’s biggest challenges, and what do residents want from the city’s strategic plan. All responses were written on a large notepad by Ibarra, before being placed alongside the walls of the conference room.
Ibarra said the public event was like a tool for city elected officials to narrow in on what constituents want, comparing officials to cooks creating a recipe book.
“The strategic plan will help clarify what that recipe is,” he said. “They’re going into the kitchen of their community and trying to figure out what it is that people want to eat?”
On the long list of things residents enjoyed about the city were: the city’s school system, nearby hospitals and health care, the area’s low crime rate and residential housing values.
“I feel our community is good for raising families,” Aaron Fleming said, praising the city’s schools and Parks and Recreation department.
Tom Carter said he moved from Chicago to Rio Rancho more than 30 years ago for the area’s climate and clean air, saying the city’s thin air helped his son’s asthma. Carter, a school bus attendant, said he was concerned about the school district’s lack of state funds.
“School funding is a real big problem right now,” Carter said. “The budget for transportation is inadequate and I don’t know what they’re doing in Santa Fe about it because we’re $800,000 short and that $800,000 has to come out of the school budget rather than transportation (budget).”
Fixing the city’s road conditions was near the top of the residents list of city challenges, with paving residential dirt roads considered as a priority.
Several residents said the city should continue to grow its economy and offer residents more job opportunities. To do so, Ibarra said, residents should consider how Rio Rancho could attract more businesses to the area.
“I’ve worked in cities in every time zone of the United States and we were all ‘centrally located,’ that’s what we said. We all had great schools, we all had great parks, we all had wonderful festivals – in other words, we were like everybody else,” Ibarra said. “How do you make yourself as a community distinctive to be a place to invest, both residentially and economically?”
City residents who could not attend the event can still comment on the city’s planning online at rrnm.gov/2017sp. Online questions include: what are Rio Rancho’s biggest challenges; what are the city’s greatest strengths; what city services would residents like to see more of; what issues are important to the city’s future; and what’s the city’s potential in the next five years.