Instead of boos, the Village of Los Ranchos governing table faced a happy crowd at its special meeting held Monday, Aug. 29. The single agenda item was an $8 million general obligation bond question for open space land purchases. The question will be put on the upcoming November ballot.
Money For Beauty
Mayor Don Lopez, who sometimes uses his Air Force Colonel voice when he gets hot, seemed almost lighthearted while hosting this all-Zoom meeting. The resolution on the table says in a nutshell that it is in the best interest of the Village to acquire property to be used as open space and general obligation bonds are the best way to do it. But voters have to approve this hefty expenditure at the polls.
The prospect of losing open space with housing and business developments have put Los Ranchos residents at odds with the Village’s administration. One hot button proposed project is a cluster development at Guadalupe Trail and Chavez. This would take 9.26 acres of mostly irrigated open land and turn it into a 21-home subdivision, with about 2-acres of conservation open space. It has been put on hold until November.
A couple of citizens asked if there were specific properties in mind for purchase. Village folks said no particular property is on the table at this point. Los Ranchos has already purchased several properties for open space use including Edgewood Park east of Fourth on Osuna, land on Rio Grande Blvd just north of Paseo Del Norte and a portion of Anderson Vineyard along the Rio Grande S-curve among others.
Trustees tweaked the resolution a bit to make sure it was clear that the bond money was only to be used for open space related purchases. Several residents asked good questions regarding finances. The Village will not be using all of its bonding capacity, which is about $10 million. The debt service for $8 million is about $648,000 a year. Village bean counters said there are no plans for any property tax increase as there are enough gross receipts bucks coming in. To boot, there is still roughly $1 million in the land-acquisition account. Mayor Lopez said there were other partners and avenues available to fund acquisitions, if needed.
There were just over a handful of Zoomed public commenters with all but one of the speakers in support. Most thanked the trustees for taking this step to preserve more Village open space.
“As president of the Friends of Los Ranchos we are thrilled that the Village of Los Ranchos is again looking forward to preserving our rural heritage. This general obligation bond for open space follows our 2009 bond for the former Anderson Vineyard which saved 20 acres and created a wonderful AgriNature Center. It is again, a great step in saving the quality of life in our unique village,” Joe Craig said, summing things up.
Now it is up to the Village voters. Village Trustees will meet again from noon to 4:30 pm on Sept. 8 in a public workshop meeting and then the regular Trustee meeting at 4pm on Sept. 14. Agendas and video links to the meetings can be found at www.losranchosnm.gov.