“Life goes on in the village. Life goes on like a song.” And so it is as Corrales begins 2021 after a coronavirus pandemic crushed most of community life here during 2020. The two lines above are the underlying phrase from the Corrales pageant produced and staged by the late Evelyn Losack in the early 1980s. The song “Los Corrales” was formally adopted by the Village Council on April 24, 2012. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXI No.6 May 5, 2012 “Corrales Adopts Official Song,” which includes stanzas and refrain.)
Resilience and further adaptations are expected to be watch-words for Corrales in the year ahead. Vaccines for COVID-19 are only now being administered; Corrales firefighters and police are being scheduled. Across the board, much of what was anticipated to occur last year has effectively rolled over to this year. Among expected highlights are significant changes to the Village’s land use policies, including regulations on secondary dwellings (“casitas”) on residential lots and higher density for senior living facilities in the commercial district.
The Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a January 13 online work-study session on changes that may be needed to the Village’s regulations for casitas, or guesthouses. It will start at 1 p.m. and may run to 3 p.m. Contact Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin for remote access to the meeting. Village officials are contracting with the Mid-Region Council of Governments to analyze and recommend changes to Corrales’ land use policies as a review of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan. Village Administrator Ron Curry said December 29 he anticipates the Village Council will consider those recommendations by the end of this year.
On Tuesday, January 12, the Village Council will hold its first meeting of 2021 via Zoom, starting at 6:30 p.m. An appointment will be made to fill the council seat being vacated by Dave Dornburg, who resigned effective December 31. He has sold his home and is moving away. The council will vote on confirmation of someone appointed by Mayor Jo Anne Roake.
As the N.M. Legislature convenes in Santa Fe January 19 and continues through March 20, probably in a “hybrid” model with some sessions conducted virtually, three legislators from Corrales will deliberate: Representatives Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Daymon Ely and new Senator Brenda McKenna. Crafting a new budget will be a top priority, as always, but considerable attention is on whether legislators will legalize sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use, as neighboring states have done.
Corrales’ first cannabis shop, a dispensary for medical marijuana, opened at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road. Another proposal that Corrales residents are following is possible adoption of the long-debated Health Security for New Mexicans Act which would provide all citizens with the same level of health care as state employees receive.
Village Administrator Ron Curry said the mayor has not made specific requests for funding beyond the Village’s infrastructure capital improvements program (ICIP) list adopted last September. That prioritized list includes $40,000 for animal control equipment and facilities, $75,000 to construct a trail connection at the top of Sagebrush Drive, $100,000 for municipal parking facilities, $2,155,000 for the Fire Department’s plan to extend water lines for fire suppression and $1,225,000 to improve residental roads and drainage.
There is no expectation that all of those projects will be funded. As the new year gets under way, a major sewer project is being installed along the south end of Loma Larga. A sewer line is being installed by horizontal drilling to connect the Pueblo los Cerros condos’ failed wastewater treatment plant to the Albuquerque sewer system at Alameda Boulevard. Completion is expected before April.
An extention of the Village’s sewer service to homes in the Priestley-Coroval neighborhood —anticipated for more than two decades— could begin by September. However, engineering for the project by Village Engineer Steve Grolmann was not complete as of January 1. Another perennial project, a pathway along Corrales Road in the business district is unlikely to be implemented this year. When asked about it, Curry explained that a high priority for the mayor is finally getting new crosswalks along the road designated and old ones re-striped.
Back in December 2018, the Corrales MainStreet Design Committee under Allan Tinkham said that it had received $40,000 from New Mexico MainStreet with which to pay for the complete engineered design of the first section of the pathway. At that time it was thought that the first stretch of the path heading north from West Ella would be completed by October 2020. That didn’t happen, and Curry offered no prediction when it would.
Also left hanging since last year is a decision on whether the Village should accept the long-standing offer from the N.M. Department of Transportation to transfer ownership of Corrales Road (State Highway 448) to the Village. A scheduled meeting on that topic was cancelled this fall and never re-set. Public input discussions with citizens are expected to resume before summer.
Similarly, Curry intends thorough public participation early this spring about options to complete the upper Meadowlark trails project. Plans for a bike and walking path along the north side of Meadowlark between Loma Larga and the Rio Rancho boundary were scuttled when state funders denied the Village a waiver to requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act because the grade is too steep at the west end.
The Village Administrator reported that the way forward is still hung up with a lingering lawsuit with the company that reconstructed upper Meadowlark in phase one. Initially, plans called for a horse path along the south side of Meadowlark, connecting trails along Loma Larga to the existing Thompson Fence Line Trail along the escarpment in Rio Rancho.
In an interview December 29, Curry said paths along upper Meadowlark could be in place by mid-year. No announcement has been made regarding this year’s Corrales Garden Tour which normally comes in early June. The 2021 event is expected to be cancelled due to the pandemic. And if the Fourth of July Parade is held this year, it is likely to be a drastically curtailed event.
On the other hand, the Corrales Growers’ Market probably will resume much as it was last fall. Design and engineering has been completed for installation of a water tank for the Fire Department at the top of Angel Hill, another project that has been anticipated for decades. When funding is available, that could begin this year. A second phase would involve laying a water line with fire hydrants from the tank down to Loma Larga.
A new project begun last summer, recommendations for how the “Scummy Ditch” (real name: Corrales Interior Drain) east of Corrales Road might be transformed for public use should be submitted by mid-August. When the Village Council established “an ad hoc committee to explore the possibilities of the Corrales Interior Drain” on August 18, 2020, it set a one-year timeframe for reporting back.
The year 2021 marks 50 years since the people of Corrales incorporated their community as a municipality. The official date was September 17, 1971. If anyone remembers, civic-minded Corraleños are supposed to gather outside the Village Office to open a time capsule sealed on July 4, 1997. At the time, the concrete-coated “crypt” was to be opened on September 22, 2021.
The time capsule project by the Corrales Historical Society was part of the celebration of Corrales’ 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality.
Inside the crumbling concrete box near the entrance to the Village Office is a plywood box containing the real receptacle: a metal box containing items of historic interest and other memorabilia. The capsule was purchased with funds donated by Intel Corporation. (See Corrales Comment June 21, 1997.)
By December, protection from COVID-19 should be well underway and, with it, some return to normalcy with such mundane affairs as in-person Village Council meetings, group meals at the Senior Center and events at the Old Church. St. Nick may even be able to return on the first weekend in December. And perhaps true to form, villagers will ponder standing for election to the Village Council. Declarations of candidacy will be due in early January 2022.