By Joe Craig, President, Friends of Los Ranchos, Inc
This letter is provided as opinion/commentary from the author.
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You may know us as Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, founded in 1650 but in the last year we have become Lost. The Village Administration has lost the truth, they have lost our trust and they have lost the vision that created our wonderful community.
The mayor who says he has trouble with math despite a master’s degree in engineering and who gleefully signs P.E. after his name has trouble remembering how long he has been in public service. His platform when he was running for mayor was, “Elect Me, I Know Everything that is Going On”. His statement in a few months after the election was “Why Didn’t I Know That?” with a confused look to his trustees and administration.
Most Village staff left after Mayor Lopez took office, Village Attorney, Administrator, Village Clerk, Agri- Manager and so on. A new Village Administrator lasted 2 ½ months before departing. The newest Village Administrator calls our residents, “A Mob.”
Our Village Trustees all ran on platforms that included the following statements.
One Trustee says she ran “to ensure residents and business owners voice would be heard and she has a passion for the Village way of life”, now she states in the open trustee meeting that she is “disgusted with the villagers”. She and her husband became developers and bellied up to the Village coffers for a high-density project.
Another Trustee says he “values the diversity of the people and its agricultural heritage. He understands that water is a critical resource for…keeping our majestic cottonwoods alive. Yet he votes to destroy our Del Norte Open Space for a measly $10,000 and then votes again to “borrow” $500,000 from the MRGCD to fix the destruction of the fields and dozens of decades old cottonwoods that have been killed.
The third trustee says “I want to protect, preserve, and nurture our special way of life. I believe it is essential we maintain our agricultural roots” Yet, he too votes for the destruction of one of our most treasured wildlife sites at Guadalupe and Chavez. A huge part of our Los Ranchos Historic Corridor but Heritage Hotels want to destroy our heritage and gives us the threat of 6-foot-high solid fences all-round the 9 acres of alfalfa field and build McMansions. Sadly, Trustee Pacheco’s developer husband and daughter thought it wise to stand up and promote the $1 million dollar houses as affordable housing.
I think I live in a different universe than these leaders. Jim Long of Heritage Hotels brags that his family has been here for 600 years or so, I guess gives him the right to determine our heritage. My family has only been here for 400 or so years, my grandfathers would have been hung or shot by the British if they had lost their battle for Liberty and Justice for All…
And the final trustee just works for the developer. Oh well. Too bad none of them were at the November 2nd groundbreaking for our Village Center. We have been working on this project for 15 years or so to bring a vibrancy back into the heart of our community. Instead, we get a bait and switch with the mayor and developer for a housing complex that some people call a Soviet era style ”khrushchyovk” high rise, 204 housing units jammed up against our Historic Route 66 and the historically significant Osuna Street. Interesting to see the BernCo Swat Team with their armored vehicles in an exercise and the mass presence of Sheriff’s Deputies for a simple groundbreaking.
Our Village meetings have been graced with their presence in bullet proof vests and full side arms. Frightening that Colonel Lopez (he was in the Air National Guard) needs massive protection from our supposedly aging population. He does like to remind us of that and told one of our young professional couples, that he didn’t have to take orders from the residents, because he was a Colonel. Interesting as well to see the presence of the BernCo Housing Authority’s arrivals in their Mercedes SUVs.
So where are we in this darkness? A District Court Declaratory Relief Suit filed in Judge Erin O’Connell’s court; a second suit being prepared. Complaints filed with the State of NM Attorney General and the State of New Mexico Ethic Commission. Bimonthly community meetings, petitions filed with the Village of Los Ranchos with close to 10% of the total Village population signing (over a holiday week) their displeasure towards the multiple high-density projects being dropped into the heart of our village.
Demands that the Village initiative a traffic study for our fragile area including the 4 th /Osuna/Chavez intersection. Initiation of a major study for Chavez Road to help alleviate traffic issues after years of complaints by residents. And yet the mayor continues to run the Village of Los Ranchos as a South American Dictatorship. Gracefully he has allowed meetings on Thursdays after 6 years of ignoring residents, the Trustees continue to pass high density projects that are supposed to be “conservation” projects, Planning & Zoning passes high density projects that have a tremendous impact on the failing infrastructure and the Village Attorneys advise that the administration not to talk with anyone.
To rephrase a speech by Argentina’s Eva Perón, Please Cry for Us, Albuquerque… we need your prayers.