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By Meredith Hughes
Should the $4.7 million that turned up unexpectedly in the Village coffers the end of 2019 be spent to finally implement the long-envisioned pathway project along Corrales Road? Former Corrales MainStreet board member and one time active marketer of all things Corrales, Deborah Blank, was on it swiftly. September 4 she wrote the following to Sandy Rasmussen, executive director of MainStreet in Corrales: “I’m delighted to learn of our unexpected windfall of $4.7 million. I foresee quite a long and I hope productive discussion about how to use this magnificent sum. As someone who advocated and lobbied for the pathway, of course I put it at the top of the list of candidates for funding.

“I would like to let you and the board know that many people contributed to a pathway fund two years ago. This effort, which was tied to Starry Night, raised over $20K —a number of individuals (personal friends of mine) gave more than one thousand dollars. Although I’m no longer active on the board, I am frequently asked about the pathway, and in particular, what happened to the donations.

“Speaking frankly, if the pathway is not a major recipient of this traunch of surprise funds, I think that MainStreet should —no, must— return the donations. That is only fair to supporters. Also, an update on pathway status would be appreciated in the next issue of the Corrales Comment.” As for the pathway project, two summers ago MainStreet launched a separate website for it, specifically to invite involvement financially and otherwise from Corraleños, who did indeed respond, as Blank referenced in her letter of September 4.

In April 2019, however, then State Senator John Sapien strongly urged the mayor and Village Council to re-think their support for the pathways project through the business district here. “Please take a second look at that pathway,” Sapien pleaded at the April 23 council meeting. “I think that’s the wrong direction for Corrales.” His remarks came during state legislators’ briefings on the 60-day session of the N.M. Legislature. Neither he nor State Representatives Jane Powdrell-Culbert or Daymon Ely sought funding for the long-proposed pathway project, and none was appropriated. But the project continued to crawl along; it was first proposed 23 years ago as Village officials sought designation of Corrales Road for the federal scenic and historic byway program. After citing his concerns at the council meeting, Sapien closed saying, “I do ask us to slow down on this project.”

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On July 24 of 2019, this was posted on the pathway website, http://corralespathway.org : “The Village is in the process of hiring a design consultant to complete construction documents for the first phase of the PAR (Pathway) project. This work will include confirmation of the Phase I limits, extensive coordination with the NMDOT, a high level of community engagement, and will also consider parking requirements for pathway access. The resulting documents will make the first phase of the project ‘shovel ready.’” The website does not appear to have been updated since then. Rasmussen responded to Blank’s September 4, 2020 letter this way. “I will gladly share with the board!

“As you know, we have been working with the Village and New Mexico MainStreet. We have an $80K contract with Steve Grollman to do the construction documents that are needed to apply for any funding. We also have had numerous conversations with New Mexico Department of Transportation, in which the Village has been on the call also, just asking them to please OK the use of crusher fine (already used in another NMDOT path project in Santa Fe, which is in another district) so that we can get the drawings completed and look for funds. “The Village administration has been very supportive but they are also frustrated with NMDOT, on other issues besides ours, too.

“It would seem simple to have the engineer just proceed and do the plans like we want them but if the NMDOT objected at that point, we would be out a large sum of money to then redraw plans. We are just as frustrated as you and your friends but we also do not have the authority or money to buy land to put it off NMDOT right-of-way. Maybe an article in the Comment could help or anger NMDOT; NMMS is trying to help also.

“I will also share your letter with the Administration…yes, some of that money could be nice for at least matching funds! Will keep you posted!” As of October 5, it still was uncertain as to when or how decisions on allocating the $4.7 million would be made.

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