As Corrales’ new mayor, Jim Fahey, takes the helm at the Village office, he anticipates no abrupt changes in personnel. He scored a decisive victory in the March 1 municipal elections and was sworn in March 31, along with two new councillors, John Alsobrook and Rick Miera, along with returning councillor Mel Knight. The outgoing mayor, Jo Anne Roake, had moved quickly after her own swearing in to replace the Village Administrator at that time, John Avila, as well as the Village’s law firm.
Corrales Comment asked Mayor Fahey whether he intended to name his own administrator or other key personnel and he replied “No one is being replaced. The staff is doing a great job. They work together well and efficiently.”
He said his first effort would be to get “the lay of the land, attend the elected official orientation in Santa Fe and prepare for our first council meeting which will be an organizational meeting.”
That will be Tuesday, April 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers (which doubles as Municipal Court) across from Wells Fargo Bank.
The new mayor, a retired surgeon who also chairs the board of directors for the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, said an early focus of his administration will be to try to gain funding for projects that have been discussed and planned over the past year and during recent campaigns.
“It may not prove to be as easy as advertised by the state and federal government as there are very specific guidelines to quality for funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Locally we will try to move forward on the sewer system for some of the denser neighborhoods, start construction on the new gym and the rec center —although we still need additional funding to complete the project— come to a consensus on a performing arts center that has no funding at present an address a recent issue of temporary housing for stray animals in the village.”
He was elected to the Village Council in 2012 and again in 2016 in what is now District 5. He served on the council until March 2020.
While on the council, Fahey began attending meetings of the board of directors of the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority which attempted to address chronic flooding problems here and in Rio Rancho. He was elected to that board in 2010, and has been re-elected ever since. He is currently the board’s chairman. His SSCAFCA term ends next year.
H also disliked the project which eventually installed a small-diameter wastewater line down Corrales Road to serve the commercial area, but he helped implement it to end a decades-long impasse. “Ultimately, we got only a STEP system,” which is a pressurized septic tank effluent line that accepts only liquid waste, and serves only the business district, Fahey said during the campaign for mayor. T
Based on statements during the candidate forums February 7 and 10, Fahey suggested the next Village Council may be ready to consider switching to a more conventional gravity-fed sewer system.
“The system we have now is not the best. It appears, after the discussion we had the other night, that all the five people who participated are for a sewer line. So if they’re all in favor of a sewer line, we should start thinking about planning for a sewer line,” he said in February.
“That’s where the Interior Drain project comes in, and that’s where the Comprehensive Plan comes into play,” since the drainage ditch there now could contain a gravity-fed sewer pipe.
That long drainage ditch east of Corrales Road owned by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District runs all the way from the end of East Valverde Road to south beyond East Meadowlark Lane. “If we do this first part right, it could be a template for a sewer line to serve other parts of the village. The MRGCD sounds eager to get rid of the Interior Drain. If you put in things you know you need, such as broadband, sewer, a fire suppression system, and then cover it up, then in the middle of this gorgeous pathway area you plant your heritage trees and you make it pretty. You allow bicycles, pedestrians and equestrians —and you close it to traffic. You’ve got to close it to traffic, because it is there, motorists will use it and it will be dangerous. So that’s sort of a pipe dream.”
On another long-running, endlessly delayed proposal, a pathway along Corrales Road, he said he would like to see it advance. Fahey said he would “absolutely” like to see the pathway implemented as soon as possible.
But Fahey does not favor Village government taking over Corrales Road [State Highway 448] because it would be too expensive to manage and maintain. Among the reasons are that the road cannot meet the Village’s roadway standards and the numerous irrigation pipes and culverts under the road will eventually deteriorate requiring enormous repair costs.
If the highway department fixes those things and brings it up to meet the Village’s standards, a transfer of ownership might be possible, he said.”We can certainly discuss it with them, but they need to tell us how much they spend on the road, they need to get the culverts clear and functional and they need to stabilize the road shoulders.”
Fahey does not want to be drawn into the commercial cannabis cultivation issue again. “The ordinance banning commercial cannabis in residential areas has been passed, it is the law of the land, and it will be enforced and defended,” he emphasized.
He wants to see tighter controls on construction of casitas or the reversion of existing ones to rental units, although “I’ll not interfere with ones already in existence, but if this keeps going, we’re going to have issues with our groundwater.”
To allow an ongoing proliferation of casitas “would be a quantum change for the Village of Corrales,” Fahey added during the campaign. He sees permission for higher density senior living facilities in much the same way, although he noted that is already being evaluated by the Planning and Zoning Commission and would likely be addressed by an update of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan.