If you’re curious about plans to create a new park east of Corrales Road in the central part of the village, you might want to stop by a new booth at the Sunday Growers’ Market. Illustrative panels are displayed behind a table for members of the Village-appointed Corrales Interior Drain Committee which is gathering public input for recommendations to the mayor and Village Council. The long drainage feature and ditch bank roads owned and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District between Corrales Road and the river are valued as a green belt, wildlife habitat, access to residences and recreational trails, as well as kids’ routes to and from schools.

Current chair of the Interior Drain Committee is Doug Findley, son of the founder of the Corrales Bosque Preserve, the late Jim Findley. He was joined by Lou Murphy tabling at the September 5 Growers’ Market. Among those who stopped at the table were Conservancy District Director Mike Hamman, Mayor Jo Anne Roake and Elena Kayak, former chair of the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

“We had about six to eight people stop,” Murphy reported, “some who do  not live in the village but it prompted others to stop.  We handed out more surveys to be completed.” A survey has been mailed to residents near the Corrales Interior Drain to learn what changes, if any, should be considered to the long drainage ditch east of Corrales Road. The cover letter accompanying the questionnaire explained its purpose.

“The Corrales Interior Drain was constructed in the 1930s to lower the water table and reclaim flooded farmland. The Interior Drain runs from East Valverde Road south to the Corrales Clear Ditch and Bosque Preserve, culminating just south of East Meadowlark Lane. The 26 acre, 120-foot-wide drain is owned and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy.

“Today, the Interior Drain serves many uses, providing access to homes, farms and the elementary school, recreation for biking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and bird watching. It is a vital nature sanctuary with entry to the Bosque Preserve. In recent years, use of the ditch banks along the Corrales Interior Drain have given rise to concerns about increased traffic and associated dust and potential contamination of water in the drainage ditch.

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“Concerns have been raised about children’s safety especially as they walk or ride bicycles along the ditch going to and from Corrales Elementary School. Villagers have long thought about how the ditch right-of-way might serve community uses while maintaining MRGCD property ownership and drainage mandate.

“In 2020, Mayor Jo Anne Roake appointed The Corrales Interior Drain Committee tasked to make recommendations on the drain’s uses, preservation and potential. Since the Village of Corrales has no  ownership in the land involved, the committee acknowledges that its eventual recommendations would need concurrence from the MRGCD to be implemented. The district’s chief concern is expected to be retaining full use of the ditch and ditchbanks to perform routine maintenance.

 “One of the first things the committee did was to document what is physically in the ditch and on the ditchbanks, how the land is now used and what adjacent features should be taken into consideration, such as homes, trails and Corrales Elementary School and the playground there.

“Suggested opportunities for future use of the ditch that runs from Valverde Road on the north to East Meadowlark on the south, include a Fire Department fire suppression water line to fight fires east of the drain; horse riding; hiking; children’s access to school grounds; a pond;  a green corridor for appreciation of nature and wildlife habitat; a butterfly garden; and improvements in air quality for neighbors as a result of reductions in dust.”

As a preliminary concept, the committee is considering possible uses for three conditions along the ditch: ponds, water areas and xeric locations. A photo essay of the varying parts of the long ditch can be found in the centerfold pages of Corrales Comment’s May 22, 2021 issue.

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