‘Tis the season.
Our responses to it were formed when we were very young. It was the happiest of times, of family gatherings, all the colored lights and candles, tinsel, and of presents - a time of accumulation.
Now, for many of us, it’s, well, it’s now; a time more of decluttering than accumulating more stuff. For many of us it’s a time for thinning things out, for giving away, simplifying.
Childhood was our time for receiving. As we grew up, we came more and more to appreciate that this is most importantly the season for giving, for finding the right something to do or share or give to make your friends and loved ones smile, to give them happiness. And for reaching out and helping others including people we may not even know personally.
With time and experience in living, we learn that giving is actually the greatest joy – at any time but especially in this season that is special to so many peoples of different faiths and cultures.
And when one thinks of community, it is the sharing and giving that radiates, that gives everything meaning.
In essence, that is the meaning and the heart of Village in the Village; it’s a community of people brought together in, and because of, the spirit of giving, of helping, of lending a hand – and of spending time in the company of friends who feel the same way.
ViV’s purpose is to enable our neighbors to continue to live independently as long as they are capable of doing so. Providing services like rides to appointments, basic technical help, assistance with small household odd jobs, companionship visits, and a variety of social activities so they can stay active in the community. It’s a cause we all embrace and celebrate.
But the joy of it all comes from the giving.
So at this special season, we want to give our thanks and gratitude to all who make up ViV, those who sponsor our activities, and to everyone who gives of your time and resources to support one another and others.
May you have a joyous Holiday Season and the very happiest of New Years.
- From the Board of Directors and Executive Director of Village in the Village, Corrales
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Plugs: Gucci. Nearest: Cottonwood
House of Gucci tells the true story of the iconic Italian fashion family. The film follows the rise and fall of Guccis (and soon-to-be-Guccis) from 1978 to the 1990s. You can track the era by the hairstyles and cars, as well as Christmas gifts (such as Simon and Teddy Ruxpin). Along the way there’s plenty of melodrama.
Full disclosure: I am no one’s idea of a fashion follower, and I know even less about high-end fashion such as Gucci. Though the film is based on a book of the same title, and by extension a true story, I had no idea what to expect. I vaguely remembered that there was some assassination, or attempted murder involved in the story, but I wasn’t sure who the victim was, so I went into House of Gucci with a clean slate.
Lady Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, a middle-class, possible gold digger who marries into the Gucci family via nerdy lawyer Maurizio (Adam Driver), much to the evident dismay of his father, Rudolfo. The dramatic dichotomy is set early on: the indecisive, studious Maurizio and the impulsive, passionate, manipulative go-getter Patrizia. The meet between them is too long and too cloying by half (I suspect to pad out Lady Gaga’s screen time). Gaga’s giggly character, though annoying and one-note at first, eventually wins over both Maurizio and the audience.
The film is filled with excellent performances, perhaps most prominent among them Lady Gaga. She effectively conveys a range of emotions, ranging from vulnerability to guile. Driver is good as her husband, though often so passive it’s not clear he has much to do in the role. Jeremy Irons has a small but savory part as Rodolfo, brother of Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino). Pacino can do this role in his sleep but, to his credit, decided to show up and not phone it in. Maurizio’s cousin, Paolo, played with commitment by Jared Leto, is a talentless oaf with delusions of grandeur largely inspired by his own last name. Yes, Leto’s performance is over the top, but it fits the film. The film is slightly unhinged, but then again the family is unhinged, and the story is unhinged. These are, for the most part, awful people and their fortunes and foibles are writ large.
The Guccis, not surprisingly, embraced the ethos of Leona Helmsley, Donald Trump, and others that only stupid people pay taxes. This is par for the golf course, but sometimes the law catches up with even the rich — just ask Wesley Snipes and Martha Stewart— and sure enough soon the Guccis are swimming in debt and ducking police raids. As if that’s not enough, Patrizia’s marriage is soon on the rocks, and she means to keep it together.
The film follows Patrizia as she unravels into scheming, obsession, and revenge, seeking weaknesses in the family dynamic to exploit for her own purposes. About halfway through the film an important subplot emerges as Patrizia seeks out guidance from a soothsayer. The fortuneteller, played by Salma Hayek, soon become an accomplice to murder (“We’ve run out of spells, it’s time for something stronger,” one says).
For all the genuine drama and melodrama, the film seems curiously unfocused. The cast are interesting —and Irons and Leto, especially, are a delight to watch. But House of Gucci is perhaps excessive in its excesses.
It’s about a back-stabbing power struggle in the Gucci family. It’s about a scorned woman who seeks revenge. It’s about the cutthroat world of high fashion in the 1980s. It’s about two and a half hours long, and it either needed more or less Lady Gaga, depending on which way the story wanted to go.
It would have been a stronger film (with a tighter plot) had the filmmakers figured out which story they most wanted to tell and stuck with it.
I would like to comment on the recent articles about Global Warming. I agree we must do something, and I feel strongly we can start right here in our own backyard. Let’s start by getting back to the roots of Corrales by supporting the rural, agricultural village that we are supposed to be. If we return to being a farming, horseback riding, livestock-safe, pedestrian and bicycle friendly village we will be taking a small step toward the greater good of reducing global warming.
Just think of it: we can ride our horses, ride bicycles, and walk to the nearest restaurant, art show, art gallery or store and help save our planet at the same time.
This is what brought us to this a small rural community in the first place. Let’s “get rural” and save our world!
As a scientist, I look for cause-and-effect relationships. Which made me wonder what might explain the unusually high number of COVID cases in Corrales.
A terrible mistake was made when Intel was allowed to build its large chip- manufacturing plants adjacent to pre-existing residential neighborhoods.
There is strong evidence that people who live near Intel have higher rates of many illnesses. Might decades-long exposure to Intel toxins in the air they breathe also weaken their immune systems, which would leave them less able to fight off COVID and other viruses?
That is at least possible, and may even be probable. But there is no question that breathing Intel’s airborne toxins is a continuing threat to public health.
By Joan Morrison
What/Who is the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission?
The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission advises the Village Council and administration on issues related to the Corrales Bosque Preserve. Composed of seven members appointed by the mayor, the commission meets on the evening of the second Thursday each month, and meetings are open to the public. The commission is tasked with monitoring activities within the preserve and protecting its health.
In 1978 the Corrales Bosque Preserve was declared a protected area, and it was formally established in 1990 by the Village of Corrales Ordinance Section 11-1, which states “.… there is hereby established a Corrales Bosque Preserve, to be protected in order to preserve its natural character for the use and enjoyment of the residents of the Village in such manner as will leave it unimpaired for future use and enjoyment in its natural and protected condition.”
The preserve is a narrow strip of land containing a natural cottonwood forest and associated riparian habitats bounded by the Corrales Siphon on the north, the Alameda Boulevard bridge on the south, the western low water line of the Rio Grande on the east, and on the west by, 1) the western right of way line for the Sandoval Lateral Canal wherever the canal runs parallel to the Corrales Riverside Drain, and 2) the western right of way line for the Corrales Riverside Drain wherever the Sandoval Lateral Canal does not run parallel to the Corrales Riverside Drain (Corrales Village Code, Section 11-3).
The Corrales Riverside Drain (known as the Clear Ditch) runs the entire length of the preserve, whereas the Sandoval Lateral Canal enters the preserve just south of the Romero Road entrance at its north end and departs close to Bernaval Road and Coroval Road at its south end.
Paths in the preserve available for users include access roads along the Sandoval Lateral and the Clear Ditch and along the top of the levee as well as numerous unmaintained trails throughout the bosque.
In 2013, the Corrales Bosque Preserve was designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society because it provides essential habitat year-round for many species of birds.
Riparian habitat is particularly important for avian communities in the arid Southwest. The Corrales Bosque Preserve is an excellent example of relatively undisturbed riparian habitat when compared with other nearby riparian habitats along the Rio Grande.
Along with its value to many species of birds that nest or winter there, including several threatened or endangered species, the preserve is an important stop-over habitat for many migrants that pass through on their ways south and north, and it provides habitat for wintering Bald Eagles.
Each member of the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission (CBAC) has a designated section of the preserve that he or she visits regularly, walking or riding the access roads and trails looking for dangers such as trees fallen across trails, watching for fires, visiting with users, and reporting hazardous conditions and violations. This past year, the commission successfully installed dog waste stations at many entrances to the preserve, and members keep them filled with bags.
The commission is also responsible for maintaining the entrance signs and providing the public with user information. Members and other volunteers also participate in removal of invasive species, restoration projects and trash removal in the preserve. Because many Corraleños use the bosque in a variety of ways, the CBAC also coordinates with the Village’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and the Equestrian Advisory Commission.
In early 2021, the commission developed management guidelines intended to provide direction to the Village of Corrales Governing Body, Village of Corrales staff, and the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission. These guidelines, with objectives of protecting plant and animal life, reducing pollution, conducting fire risk mitigation, promoting educational uses, and facilitating coordination with the Corrales Fire Department and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, were accepted by the Village Council in March 2021.
Recently, commission members provided data and input to the discussion regarding the proposed clearing project in the bosque.
Do you love our preserve and are you committed to its protection? Are you interested in becoming a member of the CBAC or helping with activities? If so, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at https://www.corrales-nm.org/parksrec/page/corrales-bosque-preserve
As Corrales’ Mike Hamman prepares to step down as executive director of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District next month, he gave a wide-ranging interview to Corrales Comment about the future of farming here, cannabis cultivation, climate change, prospects for a municipal water system and a N.M. water plan. More than a year ago, the Conservancy District’s chief engineer had planned to retire in 2022 and concentrate on his two-acre family farm here. But that changed when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham asked him to serve as her senior water adviser.
In that capacity, he will direct a 50-year water plan for New Mexico.
“The governor has asked me to develop a whole-of-government approach that will include State departments, the legislature, stakeholder interests and water resource professionals from around the state,” Hamman explained.
The goal is “to develop projects and policies that will advance water resiliency strategies in every region in the face of shortages resulting from persistent drought and rising temperatures.
“This effort will help to prioritize infrastructure needs and make policy and funding recommendations to the governor and legislature for the 2023 60-day session.”
In his long career managing water with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the City of Santa Fe and Native American agencies before joining the Conservancy District January 20, 2015, Hamman focused on collaborations; he expects that to be crucial in his new role starting next month.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address New Mexico’s growing water resource challenges.”
The Conservancy District’s chief executive feels strongly that Village government should not try to ban marijuana cultivation here.
He said a flyer distributed by opponents of legal production of cannabis in Corrales “shamefully uses fear mongering to try and sway Corraleños into denying our small farmers the right to participate in a legal activity that may keep them in business.”
Hamman pointed to research by a non-profit organization that debunks cannabis opponents’ claim that marijuana uses an extraordinary amount of water. “It further states that cannabis uses less water than tomatoes, corn and other crops in California.”
“People are pointing to the SWOP operation on the north end as to what may happen in their backyards, but that is impossible with the proposed zoning regulations the Village is proposing.
“It makes sense to zone out large commercial greenhouses, as no one wants them next door, but the micro-producer regulations will fit within the community as with all other agricultural activities that the Village is committed to support in other ordinances.
“It would be a shame if these fear tactics convince the Village Council to further limit opportunities to make a decent living as a small farmer that may have no choice but to sell out to development. Is that what we want in Corrales?”
He said he is neither pro- nor anti- cannabis. “I don’t have a dog in this fight,” he said. “I’m just pro-farmer.”
When Hamman took over as director of MRGCD, the district supplied water to approximately 10,000 separate irrigators, and since then, between 200 and 300 acres are no longer cultivated, he reported. A bigger change has been restoration of the district’s financial reserves to carry out necessary, but long neglected, infrastructure upgrades, repairs and maintenance.
He was asked what has been the biggest difference, operationally, in how MRGCD functioned when he took over compared to today.
Hamman said the board of directors as far back as 2008 cut its rates that farmers had to pay to irrigate, which over time, depleted the district’s reserves to pay for needed repairs and maintenance. He said the previous executive director, Subhas Shah, “was quite proud of the surplus, but we had what I consider to be a highly under-served system. It had a lot of deferred maintenance, a lot of outdated equipment. Why they were holding on to that big reserve fund, I don’t know. It was just the nature of the management at that time. But I came in at a time when the district had a lot of good, experienced board members who led the charge to cut the bleeding.
“We were bleeding three or four million dollars a year just in the operating budget out of that surplus, so we were in the red, and depleting the surplus that was supposed to be for infrastructure. The new thinking came in just before I was hired.
“The new board told me to operate the office professionally, get our staff operating in the black and let’s take a look at our long-term capital needs.
“Those were the parameters that I was supposed to take on, in addition to improving relations with the six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos and all our local governments… because quite frankly, those relationships were pretty bad. I mean, people dealt with the district because they had to, but they sure didn’t like to.
“That was one of the things that I worked really hard on. I brought my political capital with the Pueblos with me, as well as with the federal and state agencies. Those were things I had worked on for my entire career, and the board was buying that when they hired me.”
Between stints with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, he worked on water issues for the Jicarilla Apache government for more than eight years, and later a salmon habitat recovery program for tribes in the Pacific Northwest’s Klamath Basin.
He was the City of Santa Fe’s first director of water operations at a time when the City acquired the utility from Public Service Company of New Mexico. After five years there, he was recruited by the Jicarilla Apache to serve as its first water administrator.
“Then in 2008, the area manager position came open with the Bureau of Reclamation in Albuquerque. My wife and I looked at that and decided it was a good time to come back home.”
He took early retirement from that position to take the MRGCD job. “I told the board when I came on that I would give them four-plus years, and that I had retirement plans of my own after working in public service for 40-plus years.”
Those plans included farming here in Corrales as well as developing some property he owns in Alaska. “Great plans, but those will be put on hold for a little while longer. Our illustrious governor is a very persuasive lady. She told me we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform New Mexico’s water situation, from both an infrastructure and a policy perspective.”
He said the governor had high expectations that the State’s 50-Year Water Plan would be completed by now, but that has nor been the case, partially due to the pandemic and inadequate funding. “I think the plan is coming along pretty well, but we’re going to need more time to do it right.”
A crucial factor in moving ahead with a water plan and its implementation is that adequate funding may finally be available, “such as the federal infrastructure funding that is coming into the State, and there’s still quite a bit of under-utilized capital appropriation from the legislature for water projects that is not yet put to beneficial use.”
Hamman said he has been told that $600 million in previous state appropriations for water projects remains unspent. “There are a lot of reasons why that’s the case, and that’s why we need a really good analysis for how we can capitalize on that.”
Already widely recognized are the “serious shortcomings for rural water systems and regional water insecurity problems that are going to take the best minds and commitment to action to get this jump-started in the right direction,” Hamman explained, “rather than continue to chase our tails about things like, ‘well, who’s going to be the State Engineer?’ and ‘what are the qualifications going to be for that position?’ Instead, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole system.”
He hopes to formulate a vision for New Mexico’s water future with the help of experts and groups around the state coupled with a time line “so that when August-September rolls around, we’re in a position to advise the legislature, the governor’s office and all the regions of the state that ‘we’ve heard you; we know what needs to be done, and here’s the plan. So now it’s up to you guys to do what you need to do for appropriations and other legislation.’”
Hamman conceded planning and good intentions have produced initiatives in the past, yet not much happens. “Let’s look at it this way. Many people in many of the basins around the state have tried so many times in the past to make progress on these things, but we’ve never had the stars to align the way things seem to be working now.”
He said he has been hearing from citizens, civic groups and specialists who want to help get this done. “I’ve been getting lots of offers of help. Everybody wants things to change. I don’t think I’ve experienced that before, where people and non-governmental organizations are saying ‘just let us know what you want us to do.’ I’m hearing that from just about every sector.”
Hamman said he thinks that is because people are so frustrated with inaction over decades,”and because the federal government is lined up to help us as they never have before, and we have all the oil and gas revenues coming in that are way above what we had expected. If we can’t make hay now, shame on us, right?”
Given those expected revenues, Hamman was asked whether that might brighten prospects that Corrales could finally get a municipal water system. Three decades ago, Village officials explored what it would cost to implement a water system, and the stunning answer was upward of $60 million, before inflation.
“Like all things, there has got to be the political will for it, and now people don’t feel there is a need for it,” Hamman replied. “The fact that we could connect to a regional utility is a possibility. Maybe Rio Rancho on the north end and Albuquerque on the south end. And the City of Albuquerque is already handling some of Corrales’ wastewater, so maybe some pieces of that are starting to fill in.”
He said existing federal-state funding could probably pay for wastewater projects here. “I know there are a lot of shallow wells that people are still counting on for household drinking water. I think at a minimum they should look at putting their wells down into a deeper aquifer, maybe 200-300 feet.”
Hamman doesn’t think it is impossible that Corrales might be able to start a municipal water system. “No, it isn’t out of our reach. For the same reason that you could probably afford a sewer system, you could afford a water system, but that depends on the political will and ability to raise taxes.
“Once you have a utility up and running, then people pay for the operation and maintenance, but it would take some combination of grants and loans that are available to Corrales.
“If the Village Council was serious about it, the first thing they would do is hire a competent firm to analyze the costs and rate structure. The N.M. Environment Department would require that in a preliminary engineering report, and I bet, even right now, Corrales could get a grant to do that preliminary work.”
He agreed that Corraleños may not be ready to give up their own private wells just yet. “But if they’re starting to have contamination problems, they will be.”
Water availability could be an equally important motive for starting a municipal water system. As climate change reduces snow pack melt in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the aquifers under Corrales will drop over time, leading to the expense of drilling deeper wells. “It is true that the decrease in precipitation and the decline in irrigation agriculture in Corrales is ultimately going to lead to declining water tables… there’s just no doubt about that.”
Another impact from the ongoing drought is decreased water in the Riverside Drain, also known as the Clear Ditch. “I was recently contacted about the drying of the “Clear Ditch,’ which is happening for a number of reasons, drought being one of them.”
A major contributing factor is ever more domestic wells drawing down the water table. “Every individual well pumping is creating its own cone of depression, and that keeps the return flows that used to go to that drain, and then, there’s less and less irrigation going on.”
On top of those factors, the riverbed is degrading as the Rio Grande flows past Corrales so that it is now lower than the Riverside Drain, he explained. On the bright side, he said release of water from upstream dams in the weeks ahead will raise water levels which may well raise it in the drain as well. “We’ve had this release from El Vado Dam to Elephant Butte so that the water in the river did up come up a couple of feet” which could mean a little more water in the Riverside Drain.
The soon-to-be senior water advisor for the governor offered a general outline for the kinds of questions to be addressed in the 50-Year Water Plan. “Obviously the big ones are the infrastructure needs related to water and resiliency from the water supply perspective; that’s really the cornerstone of a good water plan.
“You’re recognizing the differentials between supply and demand, and what components of that supply are vulnerable and need to be shored up. Or do we need to completely prepare to provide soft landings for certain segments of our water user community so that it’s not a complete loss of income or complete inability to do agricultural production that we’ve become accustomed to. We’ve had a fairly resilient system up until the last decade or so when we’ve started to see the serious signs of climate change impacts.
“Rising temperatures create the need for more water to grow the same amount of the same crop.
“When temperatures go up, aridity goes up. There’s more evapotranspiration to grow that same crop. That’s happening with the bosque and with every bit of vegetation that relies on water to survive. And bare ground also will evaporate more moisture. So not as much snowpack will accrue and it will run off quicker.
“Our infrastructure is designed for a specific type of run-off pattern, and now we may have to re-visit that, because run-off patterns are changing. And we have a different moisture pattern in which we may see more intense monsoonal events which will be damaging to that infrastructure. But that could be a source of water that can be captured and used in some form or fashion.
“Those are the sorts of things that you identify in a really solid water plan.”
An earlier water plan produced in 2018 identified about a quarter of a billion dollars in unmet infrastructure needs, Hamman recalled, and some of those needs are currently being addressed.
“What we need is a really comprehensive program for regional and rural drinking water systems. If there isn’t capacity from a rate base because of lack of population, or just lack of capacity within the organization that would take responsibility, then the systems have to be supported.
“So that is the matrix of the sort of things that we need to put into the total picture of what needs to be done,” he summed up. “And Corrales could fit right into that. You could do it in segments; you could make agreements with Rio Rancho to bring their water in, even though people here will complain about it because their water doesn’t taste as good as our own well water.
“But it’s very doable, and these regional systems are the best way to go since it has a better rate base and everybody can ride on everybody else’s shoulders.”
Like the MRGCD director before him, Hamman is open to the idea that the Corrales Interior Drain, a ditch east of Corrales Road that runs from the east end of Valverde Road to south of East Meadowlark Lane, could become municipal property owned by the Village of Corrales. The ditch has largely ceased to deliver return flows from agricultural fields to the Rio Grande; in fact much of it is dry all year.
A committee appointed by Mayor Jo Anne Roake is developing a proposal to transform the ditch and adjacent ditch roadways into public open space. But that will happen only if and when the Village takes full ownership of the property, thus relieving the Conservancy District of liability.
“We’re always hearing about traffic problems on the ditch banks. But that is more of a Village problem, not a Conservancy District problem.
“We’re not in the park business and not in the road business, and we don’t want to be.”
If the Village sees the drain as a desirable asset, it should come to an agreement with the district to transfer ownership, Hamman suggested. He noted that the primary framework for Corrales recreational trails has long been MRGCD property. “But are we as a community going to allow the MRGCD to provide all of its open space into the future?”
He ended the interview by assuring villagers that he will continue to be a Corraleño for many years to come. “I’ll be leaving the district in really good hands. We have an excellent staff and a public service ethic that didn’t necessarily exist in the past.
Still no start-up date or timetable has been announced for construction of paths along upper Meadowlark Lane between Loma Larga and Rio Rancho. Earlier this year, Village Administrator Ron Curry predicted it might be complete by the end of 2021. But as of December 1, Corrales Public Works Director Mike Chavez reported “We are at 80 percent completion with the design,” which is being carried out by Village Engineer Steve Grollman.
In his briefing for the mayor and Village Council last July, Grollman said he had the design three-quarters finished. During that July 8 report, Grollman proposed constructing a ten-foot wide asphalt path between the subdivisions’ walls on the south side of the road and the existing eastbound driving lane. That path, for pedestrians and cyclists, would be designated for bikes headed uphill, or westward, only. Cyclists headed eastward, downhill, would be expected to use the regular driving lane along with cars and trucks.
As proposed in July, a six-inch high curb would divide the bike path from the adjacent driving lane. At each of the five roads leading into subdivisions along the south side of upper Meadowlark, Grollman said crosswalks would be painted on the trail pavement. Listening to the discussion, Curry was optimistic. “I would like to think it could be done by the end of the year,” he ventured.
In his December 1 email to Corrales Comment, Public Works Director Chavez suggested a cause for the delay. “We just closed out the final funding for the Meadowlark drainage, so we can now finish the drainage. Our engineer requests that we finish the drainage to Loma Larga before we start the trail project.
“I am working on scheduling the contractor for the Loma Larga drainage as we speak.”
A solution to stormwater run-off from the 60-foot wide road right-of-way has stymied the upper Meadowlark project for a full decade.
In 2011, Corrales got a $214,000 grant from the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) “to plan, design and construct the West Meadowlark Lane Trail.” But Village officials returned the money after stiff opposition from homeowners along the road over fears the project would bring stormwater flooding onto their property.
An opposition petition was presented to the Village Council at its April 12, 2011 meeting. The project was stopped even though it had been planned for at least three years. At an August, 2009 council meeting, a resolution was approved to design and build bike lanes and a five-foot wide compacted earth trail along upper West Meadowlark. At the time, the mayor was confident he would get the bike paths built during 2011. (See Corrales Comment series on trails, starting with Vol. XXVIII, No.18, November 7, 2009 “First Steps to Implement Village-wide Trails Plan”)
But the project for bicycle riders, pedestrians and horse riders wasn’t done in 2011, and now apparently won’t be done in 2021, even though a state grant for $243,500 was formally accepted by the Village Council at its September 28, 2021 meeting to “plan, design and construct the West Meadowlark Lane Trail.”
Planning has, in fact, been under way for more than a decade. The proposal to construct bicycle lanes or paths that would link bike lanes along Loma Larga to those in Rio Rancho has been endlessly scrutinized since 2009, and was to have been implemented at roughly the same time the roadway was realigned nearly three years ago.
On-the-ground work relocating utility lines inside the public right-of-way was completed by the end of February 2018, which included substantial earthmoving. Awarding of a contract to actually rebuild the road was to have been accomplished by then.
But another hang-up arose: getting the N.M. Department of Transportation’s concurrence with design changes to the westerly end of the proposed bike trail.
NMDOT had withheld approval for the earlier design by Corrales engineer Brad Sumrall that depended on a waiver from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The original engineering plan was rejected because the slope was too severe (both east-west and north-south) for persons in a wheelchair.
A proposed work-around also failed to materialize.
The steep slope at the top of Corrales’ part on Meadowlark Lane was recognized as a potential problem from the earliest days of planning for the trails project. That was one reason why, in the early days of community input, the equestrian path was proposed for the north side of the road (since hooves could manage the slope without difficulty.)
But as the years wore on, alignment for the horse path was switched from the north side to the south, primarily based on evolving public input. That put the multi-use trail along the north side of the road, which led to the ADA issue.
Village officials decided to move ahead with reconstructing the roadway while leaving the trails component for a later phase. As the road was being finished, Village Administrator Curry said the trails needed a start-from-scratch re-thinking, and promised a thorough public involvement effort.
But in July 2021, at the first public meeting to launch a re-start, only three members of the public attended since almost no notice was given. At that session, Grollman explained his preliminary design for a bike path and horse trail.
That was followed by another public meeting via Zoom on September 22. Again the meeting was not announced in time to be published in Corrales Comment before it was held. Meetings are also usually announced at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales-nm.org.
The second time, Mayor Jo Anne Roake mentioned the Zoom meeting in her September 2021 “Mayor’s Message,” noting that “Door hanger notifications will also be hung on the doors of homes off Meadowlark, especially in the cul-de-sacs. Please spread the word.” People who live along upper Meadowlark are not the only villagers interested in potential trails for bikes, horses and those on human feet. Corraleños living throughout the village have decades-long involvement in what’s at stake in pending decisions.
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No.10, July 9, 2011 “Corrales Gives Back $160,000 for Upper Meadowlark Trail” and Vol.XXX No.16 October 8, 2011 “Upper Meadowlark Task Force Meets Mondays.” and Vol.XXXX No.1 February 20, 2021 “Corrales Returns $167,417 Meant for Meadowlark Trails.”)
The project has been amply aired in numerous public meetings for more than ten years. In 2013, a planning firm was called in to conduct a charrette to elicit optimal public input.
As stated in Corrales’ advertised “request for proposals” to build the roadway and trails, the firm winning the contract would “provide complete project design plans for the construction of pedestrian, equestrian, bicycle trails and road improvements including drainage along the upper section of West Meadowlark Road and design for traffic control options at the intersection of Loma Larga.”
In early December, the roof was being replaced on the old, one-room schoolhouse at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road. The earthen structure is being restored by John Perea who also owns the adjacent Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar. Both historic buildings are to be managed in accordance with a common site development plan. Restoration of the old schoolhouse where Corrales kids were taught from the 1870s until 1925 is to be complete before next summer.
Perea acquired the building after the 2008 death of his uncle, Bobby Perea, who lived there. For years the earthen structure at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road was all but swallowed up by dense Tree of Heaven sprouts. Adobe walls were sagging and parts of the interior were rotting away. In October, Perea said he hoped tohave a new roof and new floor before spring. “We would be very fortunate to have the electrical done and have a certificate of occupancy by next spring,” he said.
“We might even be able to have a Las Posada event in there this Christmas, even if we don’t have electrical service done by then.
“The first thing was to stabilize the building so that it didn’t fall down,” Perea said as restoration work resumed after starting about three years ago. “We’ve done a lot of cosmetic stuff and taken down all the interior walls, and taken off all the plaster that was about to fall.
“The idea is to make the restoration as much like the original as possible.”
That goes for the windows as well, although the original single-pane glass is being replaced with insulated glass. The project is being coordinated with an architect and other specialists through New Mexico MainStreet, and adobe restoration contractor Rick Catanach.
He intends to use rough-cut lumber and mud plaster as much as possible to keep the old schoolhouse’s appearance like that of a structure built in the 1870s. “We will hide the electrical service because we’ll need that for modern-day uses, and we will furnish it with period pieces. We want to bring in an old potbellied stove. The idea is for it to be like a living museum.”
Inside will be a large room —the old classroom— flanked by two small rooms on the south side. One will be a meeting space and the other an office. Corrales oldtimers used to tell of bringing chunks of coal inside the schoolhouse to burn in the stove that warmed the classroom. A future site development plan may show a common patio area between the old school and the restaurant.
Perea said the shed, or barn, at the rear of the property will be converted into restrooms and perhaps a bodega and coffee shop. “Back in the 1870s that was where the outhouse used to be, so maybe we should put up an old-fashioned outhouse door to the restrooms.”
The November 28 tribute to the man largely credited for saving the Old Church, historian Alan Minge, included little-known facts about how that was accomplished. Among Minge’s written recollections was the Corrales Historical Society’s approval for the church to be set on fire, or to be filmed as if burning, for a television production. Not long after, the Old Church did catch fire, for real, although that was thought to be caused by lightning, he recalled.
Minge was not only the driving force for saving the Old Church, he also was the primary founder of the Corrales Historical Society and Casa San Ysidro Museum across the road. He was celebrated as a visionary at the Historical Society’s event November 28 when a plaque honoring his achievements was unveiled.
Minge died at his Waterville, Kansas home May 6 of this year, having moved to his native Kansas in 1998. He was 97.
For 30 years, Minge served as chief historian for Kirtland Air Force Base, chronicling the research activities of the Air Force Special Weapons Center and the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He was also a contract historian for several Pueblo governments documenting their land and water rights claims.
Minge was co-founder and first director of the N.M. State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe. He wrote the draft legislation creating the State’s 1959 Public Records Act that established the Records Center and Archives. He was honored with the State’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1969.
At the tribute last month, some of his correspondence and notes about the long struggle to save the Old Church were read by the society’s Alice Glover. A second part of the event were remembrances by his long-time neighbor, Michelle Frechette.
In a July 2010 letter to the society’s then-President Glover, Minge laid out what it took to protect the structure that has become Corrales’ primary icon. “For fear a developer or worse would take over the Old San Ysidro Church property, Shirley [his wife] and I made offers to purchase it. We did not receive an answer directly until our mayor, [Barbara Tenorio Christianson, first mayor of Corrales] approached me to form an Historical Society of Corrales.
“The Village government was suggesting the society as manager of the property after the parish agreed at last to sell the Old Church to the Village.”
In the early 1970s, the Old Church had been de-sanctified by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe which owned the property. So after the new San Ysidro Catholic Church was built where it is now, the Old Church was leased to the Corrales Adobe Theater.
Minge’s narrative for Glover continued. “Once formed, the society’s immediate challenge was to come to terms with the Adobe Theater group renting the premises for theater productions during the summer.”
The society membership was prepared to pay the Village of Corrales to replace income it would lose from the theater’s rental.
As other correspondence read by Glover at the tribute demonstrates, Minge’s interest in preserving the structure began long before the Historical Society was established. The society’s archive include a January 6, 1954 letter from Minge to a priest in Bernalillo explaining his motive. “Nearly two years ago, my father and I visited you in Bernalillo with an offer to purchase the Old San Ysidro Church in Sandoval [then the name of Corrales]. At that time, you asked a number of questions regarding an equitable price and also regarding my motives.
“I felt the interview was very satisfactory for you and me, and I was sure you understood my interests were twofold: that our land bordered on those church lands and, secondly, that my wife and I have been most interested in Spanish culture and preservation of what little remains in Corrales. As our home across from the church stands in mute testimony, I am sure the parish can have no doubts as to our respect, care and interest for these things.”
In that January 1964 letter, Minge wrote that he had heard rumors that the Old Church might be sold soon to some other party. “I beg of you to consider my standing application that I be given the opportunity to purchase this property under whatever terms may be decided in the future.”
In a January 1967 letter, Minge explained how he would use the old church if he was allowed to buy it. “I should then wish to see it used by the community of Corrales as a meetings, lecture and concert hall. My utmost concern for owning it, and the concern of many who have approached me, is to prevent its being destroyed, becoming a commercial venture, or being used as a storehouse for junk.
“We have watched with growing alarm the rapid deterioration of the church building over the past few years.”
In that letter, he pointed out that his own property [now Casa San Ysidro Museum] is adjacent to the cemetery, and that he would be willing to give up some of his land for future use for the campo santo if an expansion of the cemetery was desired in the future.
But those overtures for a Minge purchase were rejected. It was only when Corrales’ first mayor suggested the Historical Society be formed as a more appropriate new owner that a way forward opened.
In his recounting of those formative developments in the July 2010 letter to Clover, the historian explained that Village government finally agreed to terminate lease of the Old Church to the Adobe Theater in 1978.
“It was about this time the Corrales Historical Society received several thousands of dollars (I am not sure of the exact amount) from a production company initiating a television series called Nakai in which a Pueblo Indian sheriff succeeds in protecting a small village and its church from developers,” Minge wrote.
He said the TV producers paid the Historical Society about $2,000 to use the Old Church for some of those scenes. “Some members were hesitant to have the company working in the plaza, particularly setting fire to Old Church. Negotiators assured us that the fire would be harmless, that creating the illusion of burning the building would cause no damage whatsoever.
“Because the series was being made on a ‘shoestring,’ the company offered $3,000 and no more. That sum, along with the story being filmed of an Indian sheriff saving the village and its church from developers, seemed heaven-sent, and the society agreed to allow the company to proceed.” He wrote that “shortly after filming Nakai, the upper attic area over the southern transept caught fire. Most of us believed lightning to be cause, but the area required replacing some timbers and considerable cleaning.”
His history of the long-running effort to save the Old Church included the effort in the 1980s to build an annex for public restrooms, a kitchen and storage for chairs and other equipment.
Thanks to The Nature Conservancy, a serious, but avoidable, mistake in managing the Corrales Bosque Preserve may be reversed by summer.
Continuity of habitat for wildlife using the riverside forest will be restored over the next decade as a result of the wetlands project underway at the mouth of the Montoyas Arroyo.
The wide, barren stretch of land between the east end of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Rio Grande is to be filled in with vegetation that will be irrigated with stormwater coming down the expansive Montoyas Arroyo watershed as well as treated effluent from one of Rio Rancho’s primary sewage treatment plants.
Fragmentation of the riverine habitat that stretches from the Alameda Bridge to Rio Rancho’s “North Beach” at the north end of the village has been a serious deterrent to Corrales’ bosque preservation goals.
The late Corrales biologist Jim Findley, who initiated the Corrales Bosque Preserve in 1980 and was asked by the Village to develop a management plan for it in 2008, warned repeatedly about recurring approved forest clearing projects that fragmented habitat. The largest of those by far was clearing for the outfall of the Jones Channel, but others such as fire breaks had an even greater cumulative effect over a wider area.
Findley, retired University of New Mexico biologist and 65-year resident of Corrales, explained every chance he got that the well-documented richness of the Village preserve’s wildlife assets was due largely to the fact that the woodlands on Corrales’ eastern edge were generally unbroken.
Maintaining the continuity and density of that habitat had been considered essential to the riverside forest’s value as a preserve until the Village’s fuelbreak proposals began getting approved in 2010.
No Corrales-specific assessment of the results of such fuelbreaks on wildlife were conducted before or after the first project was carried out more than two years ago just north of the Boy Scout Bridge.
Channels have been excavated in the Corrales Bosque Preserve between the outfall of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Rio Grande to distribute stormwater to the proposed ten-acre wetlands.
Major earthwork has been underway since early November to use not only stormwater from the vast Montoyas Arroyo watershed but also treated effluent from a Rio Rancho sewage plant on the edge of the arroyo near Highway 528.
The project is a collaboration among the Village of Corrales, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the City of Rio Rancho and The Nature Conservancy.
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2 March 6, 2021 “Stormwater, Treated Sewage Would Be Used for Bosque.”)
The Jones Channel has functioned as a storm drain carrying rain from Rio Rancho and Corrales into the floodplain of the river since the early 1990s. Deposited sediments over those years will be re-contoured and new earthen channels will be opened. Removal of accumulated sediment will allow bosque vegetation to connect to groundwater resources helping to sustain cottonwood trees and other plants throughout the year.
Stormwater from the Montoyas Arroyo and the Lomitas Negras Arroyo watersheds will be slowed and diverted through the proposed wetlands before emptying into the river. But an even more consistent and reliable supply of irrigation water will come from Rio Rancho’s sewage treatment plant.
That effluent would provide a perennial four to five million gallons a day.
The sewage treatment plant has operated with a discharge permit to send effluent to the river through a pipeline that runs along the flood control channel.
A grader, two front-end loaders and dump trucks worked the riverbank area between the Jones channel and the river in mid-November to create two paths for stormwater to follow on its way to the river. During major storm events when large quantities of water are pouring through the arroyo, the water would be directed more or less immediately to the river, while during lesser storms, the water would go to a more meandering, distributive channel.
Once the earthwork is completed, trees and other vegetation will be planted, probably in early spring.
Destruction of bosque habitat in 2008-10 from clearing of vegetation along the Corrales Riverside Drain (“Clear Ditch”) and east of the levee triggered intense interest in setting safeguards against future loss.
Over the summer of 2008, three different efforts were under way to bring wildlife needs into consideration when projects such as fire hazard reduction and Riverside Drain maintenance were proposed.
Two of the plans were submitted to the council September 9, 2008. One was a draft by Findley. The other which incorporated the Findley plan was developed by Anita Walsh, a strong opponent of the clear-cutting done along the Riverside Drain that spring.
A third, even more detailed, plan was produced by the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission (CBAC).
The Findley draft for a management plan was mostly in outline at that time, and was based on a vegetation classification map similar to one produced in 1984 by two biologists, V.O. Hink and R.D. Ohmart.
Findley recommended an attempt be made to “assign acceptable use categories for each vegetation type. Some types might be ‘hands off under all circumstances.’ Some might be ‘limited alteration allowable for specific purposes’ (such as wetland creation). Some might be ‘limited clearing allowable if demonstrably critical for public safety.’”
The Village’s Corrales Bosque Preserve Ordinance No. 234 states that the designated bosque is “to be protected in order to preserve its natural character for the use and enjoyment of the residents of the village in such manner as will leave it unimpaired for future use and enjoyment in its natural and protected condition.”
Villagers were dismayed at the habitat loss that occurred in the bosque and along its western perimter this past spring. (See I Vol. XXVII, No. 2, March 8, 2008 “Clear Ditch Tree Cutting Stirs Villagers’ Protest.”)
In the aftermath of the public outcry that spring over the excessive clearing that had taken place, then-Village Councillor Sayre Gerhart suggested that a wildlife habitat plan be developed for the preserve. Findley agreed to work on such a plan.
The Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) board of directors got a presentation on the Bosque Advisory Commission’s Habitat Management Plan February 13, 2012.
Bosque commissioners had sought such an opportunity for months. (See Corrales Comment’s nine-part series of articles starting Vol.XXVIII, No.7, May 23, 2009, “Bosque Preserve Habitat Plan Now Available”)
Management responsibility for the Corrales bosque had been contentious for decades. On more than one occasion, the MRGCD attorney had fired off brusque legal challenges to Village proposals affecting district property which includes irrigation and drainage ditches and basically all of the riverside forest.
Village government has never claimed ownership of the bosque which it dedicated as a nature preserve in 1986. But over the decades, MRGCD officials have concurred with Village proposals that the land be protected from abuses, that the municipality provide police and fire protection to the territory and that recreational and environmental values be enhanced.
The 2010 Habitat Management Plan, largely developed by Bosque Advisory Commission’s then-chairman, David Worledge, established what the community’s goals were for the preserve; it outlined fire protection measures and habitat improvements, and recommended restrictions on activities that would compromise those objectives.
Since its earliest years as an incorporated municipality, Corrales has maintained a desire to manage and insure protection of the woodlands along its eastern fringe. Corrales Ordinance 61, dated November 18, 1975, noted that the Village’s annexation of the bosque had approval from the MRGCD and from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
That ordinance refers to the Conservancy District’s resolution on March 11, 1975 that concured with the Village’s annexation.
But MRGCD has repeatedly asserted that Village officials have no authority to pass ordinances that apply to district property without its expressed consent. That potential conflict intensified when the Village Council passed Ordinance 234 on October 23, 1990, “preserving and protecting the Corrales Bosque Preserve; prohibiting and making unlawful certain activities in the Corrales Bosque Preserve;…”
For the most part the “Corrales Bosque Preserve Ordinance” simply outlawed activities that the Conservancy District wanted to discourage anyway, such as littering, dumping, setting of fires and unauthorized excavations, and allowed the Corrales police department to enforce those laws.
In most, if not all, cases any Village-imposed restrictions were accompanied by legal terminology that said those rules in no way constrained the MRGCD and its crews from conducting their activities.
The 1990 ordinance said, for example, that “Law enforcement officers, fire department and emergency rescue unit personnel, authorized agents and employes of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and other authorized officers, agents and employees of the federal, state and local governments, acting within the scope of their duties, shall be exempt from the provisions of Section 6-13-2” spelling out prohibited activities.
An appraisal for the front three acres of the Gonzales tract next to Wells Fargo Bank has not been released by Village officials despite citizens’ keen interest in having it purchased for public use.
A report had been expected in October or November for the vacant three acres owned by descendants of Corrales’ founder, Juan Gonzales Bas, for possible use as a “village center” linking the Village Office complex east of Corrales Road, La Entrada Park and the library, and the 5.5-acre heritage farm extending west to the Corrales Acequia ditch bank.
Corrales Comment requested a copy of the appraisal report from Village Administrator Ron Curry November 22 but he replied Decembver 6 that it is “still under executive session protocols,” meaning for now, the appraisal is for the eyes of the mayor and council only.
Back on September 28, Curry was asked by a member of the Village Council for an update on the appraisal; he replied guardedly that those discussions had taken place in a closed session, but added he expected to be able to report to councillors within 60 to 90 days from August 6.
More than four years ago, a sustained effort began to seek acquisition of the Gonzales property for a variety of public purposes, although elected officials remained mostly lukewarm to the idea.
Finally, in May 2021, an ad hoc Heritage Park Planning Committee mounted a new push that apparently persuaded the Village Council to seek an appraisal on the parcel that has been zoned for commercial use since the 1980s.
The ad hoc committee’s May 13, 2021 proposal to the mayor and council laid out its rationale why the Village should at least move ahead with obtaining an appraisal on what it called “The Gonzales Three-Acre Property: the real estate investment for the future.”
Below are excerpts of the proposal which had drawn support from numerous civic groups and Village-appointed committees. The document was written primarily by former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto and John Thompson, chairman of the Corrales Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, which originally advocated “establishing an arboretum of trees which would feature: open space, recreation, education (trees appropriate to Corrales; school gardens, etc.), shade, possible heritage plantings (like grapevines…; hence, a “Heritage Park.”)
The May 2021 proposal continued: “Architects and land-use planners became involved and a new paradigm evolved: Corrales owning the Gonzales three acres property as a centrally-located, potentially multi-use- — all ages and abilities— open space. Mention has been made of a Heritage Park and a Village Center, but those are only some possibilities for a central Village open space.”
In an email to Corrales Comment October 2, Hashimoto said he had been in contact with Gonzales family members who remain especially interested in selling the three acres to the Villlage of Corrales, as they had been to selling the 5.5-acre tract farther west which has been saved as farmland in perpetuity as the “Juan Gonzales Bas Heritage Farm.”
Hashimoto said the descendants would welcome working with the Village on this. “I believe that other interest in the property has been received by the family, but they still prefer that the Village ends up owning the land.
“Several years ago, when some of us met with Hector Gonzales, he clearly stated that. Although the family (many of Hector’s remaining siblings are elderly and live in another state) would like to sell the land, they have not placed it on the open market, hoping that something can be worked out with the Village.
“For the last three to four years, this has been a consideration.”
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.9 July 8, 2017 “C-Zoned for Decades, New Ideas for Gonzales Frontage.”)
Hector Gonzales died in March 2019.
The May 13 proposal made the point that the three-acre frontage next to the bank “can serve as a natural leading gateway to the Gonzales Bas 5.5-acre farmland, which, to this time, has been obscure to many Corraleños.
“The Village will own both sides of Corrales Road and have a municipal presence there visible and identifiable to people in the many thousands of cars which pass by daily.
“This private three-acre space has been used (courtesy of the Gonzales family) by Village residents during parades, festivals and rallies. Having this as a public space will ensure unencumbered Village use. The space-enhanced area could be conceived as a Village Center, which has been historically and geographically core to many municipalities, local and worldwide.”
The document quoted Corrales architect Pat McClernon explaining “With the Village owning both sides of Corrales road, this would leverage the past investments and build upon community success for all proposed activities benefiting village residents as well as our guests from outside the village.”
Another Corrales architect-planner, Ed Boles who has specialized in hist oric preservation, put it this way back in 2018: “Forward-looking acquisition of pivotal land in the center of the Village may yield both tangible and intangible benefits. In economic revitalization circles it is well known that strategic public investment, including recreational and cultural projects, can help stimulate private sector development.”
The committee’s proposal argues “This Gonzales-owned three acres is the most historic farmland in the village. It has been single-family owned since 1712. Back in those times, Juan Gonzales Bas raised sheep in corrals. Many believe that that’s how the village became named ‘Corrales.’
“If the Village desires, some of the land can be leased out to commercial business(es). Owning the property gives the Village more control over how it’s used. More than a dozen years ago, a developer proposed building a large office complex there which would have blocked the viewshed to the west. This blocking did not please P&Z chairperson Terry Brown, but given their ordinance guidelines, P&Z could not stop it. The developer developed a health problem and the complex did not materialize. However, if the Village owns the land and decides to have commercial there, it has more control over site and development plans than P&Z could have….”
“Over the last several years, the three acres, in one form or another, have been discussed at dozens of our meetings. Participants have included those from the Corrales Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, architects and members of volunteer groups such as Corrales Arts Partners, Sandoval Master Gardeners, Native Plant Society of New Mexico, Corrales Tree Stewards, Parks and Recreation.
“Once the Village owns the three acres, these organizations, in addition to Corrales Main Street and the 4-H Club, could help with planning, implementation and maintenance for the open space,” the proposal said.
“Volunteerism in the Village is a positive movement. People working together to make the village better is powerful, and benefits Corrales in more ways than just the material projects produced. The many who have worked for the three-acre concept are such volunteers.
“They have zero personal vested interests in the Village purchasing and developing the three acres except that it brightens the village’s future.
“To purchase and own the 3A is something the Village should do. It’s just some empty land now, but it can be much more. (Unfortunately, it could be much worse, and that’s just another reason why the Village should own it.)
“Currently, the Corrales Historical Society is celebrating ‘300 Years of Corrales Heritage and 50 Years of Village Incorporation.’ The three acres goes back those 300+ years. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the Village to purchase this very unique piece of Corrales heritage in the 50th year of its incorporation to solidify its standing and for the betterment of its future?”
When he proposed the purchase agreement for what is now the heritage farm at the May 13, 2008 Village Council meeting, then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer called it “the historic centerpiece for the Village of Corrales.”
But the purchase did not include the front three acres of the tract, just north of Wells Fargo Bank. That frontage was sold to developer Jack Westman who hoped to build an office complex there.
However, he was key to arranging the deal by which the Village acquired the family’s 5.5 acres to the west, adjacent to the acequia, which otherwise would have become a housing development.
“I have to give Jack Westman a lot of credit,” said Hector Gonzales. “He had a lot to do with working this agreement out. He’s the one who took the lead on it.
“He talked to the people in the Village [Office] who have the answers to what we wanted to do,” Gonzales explained. “You know, I have tried for years to get the Village to buy it, but it always seemed like they wanted to go in the opposite direction.”
He said he thought the Village should have purchased the entire tract, including the frontage slated for offices, “but I understand the Village doesn’t have a lot of money to do something like that.”
The resolution approved by the Village Council May 13, 2008 authorized the mayor to enter into a purchase agreement for the westerly 5.5 acres of the front parcel (not including the three acres zoned commercial).
The resolution also called for purchase of water rights sufficient to keep the land in cultivation. Selling price for the property was $1,256,445, and water rights cost $231,000 for a total of $1,487,445.
Funds to pay for the acquisition came from the Village’s general obligation municipal bonds approved by voters for farmland preservation in August 2004 and from grants such as those provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Land Preservation Program.
Hector Gonzales said his ancestors once owned all of what is now Corrales and Rio Rancho, holding lands as far south as the Calabacillas Arroyo and as far east as what is now Edith Boulevard, since that’s where the Rio Grande then ran. To the west, the Gonzales property went all the way to the Rio Puerco.
“My family would like to see that heritage recognized” in what happens on its remaining farmland in Corrales, he said.
Corrales’ building inspector, Joe Benney, resigned in mid-November, another departure in the position with significant turn-over in recent years.
No reason was disclosed publicly, although Corrales Comment has requested a copy of a letter or resignation if that exists. Village Administrator Ron Curry, who met with Benney regarding that departure, said in an email that Benney resigned “to take another job that pays more.”
Controversy regarding actions taken by the building inspector in recent years has centered on approvals for “casitas” which some villagers consider blatant violations of the Village’s long-standing restriction on residential density.
Manuel Pacheco had been Corrales’ building inspector for about five years, but when he left in 2018, he was replaced by Lee Brammeier who had more than 14 years of building code enforcement with the City of Rio Rancho, City of Albuquerque and other governments.
When Brammeier left, he was replaced by Benney earlier this year.
The building inspector position falls within the Planning and Zoning Department.
Early next year, the Corrales Bosque Gallery will host a month-long homage and memorial sale in honor of Mel Miller, an important figure in the Corrales arts scene, who died in 2020.
Miller, along with his wife, Arlene, was a founding member of the 28-year-old Corrales Bosque Gallery. A life-long painter and illustrator, Miller designed the logo still in use by the gallery.
After serving as a medic in WWII, Miller graduated from the Art Institute in Chicago. He worked as an illustrator, art director and painter for many years in Chicago before moving to New Mexico in the early 1990s for retirement.
He sold postcards at the gallery for $2, and gallery envelopes were often enhanced by one of his cartoons. Miller and his wife remained as active members of the gallery until each passed on. Arlene Miller died in 2005 and he followed her some 15 years later, leaving behind a large body of work that will be featured in the memorial sale.
A gallery representative calls the upcoming event “A rare opportunity to see much of Mel’s work in one space and available for sale.” With participation from Miller’s family, the event will run the entire month of January 2022. Eighty percent of the proceeds from the sales will be given to the family, and the rest to the gallery.
Corrales Bosque Gallery is located at 4685 Corrales Road, in the Mercado de Mayo. Masks are required to enter the gallery which is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Since before Village government’s incorporation as a municipality, community life was sustained by volunteer committees and associations, such as the Corrales Historical Society and the Corrales Volunteer Fire Department.
Some of those early civic groups have survived as nongovernmental organizations to this day while others have become official Village boards and commissions, with membership appointed by the mayor and Village Council.
Peruse the following list to see whether your own interests coincide with one or more of those boards. The Village Clerk in the Village Offices across from Wells Fargo Bank will always accept applications to be considered as vacancies arise.
The boards and commissions are: Planning and Zoning, Parks and Recreation, Bosqe Advisory Commission, Equestrian Advisory Commission, Senior Advisory Board, Library Board, Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission, the Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, Lodger’s Tax Board, Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, the Interior Drain Advisory Committee, Casa San Ysidro Advisory Board and the Water Issues Advisory Board.
At least two other groups have strong liaison with Village government: the Corrales Historical Society and Corrales MainStreet, Inc. Membership to those organizations is not by appointment by the mayor.
According to the Village of Corrales website December 1, current members of the boards are listed as follows, although some are probably incomplete or out of date.
By Meredith Hughes
“Now bring us some figgy pudding!” We small mob of kiddie carolers back in the day are standing in front of your door, wishing you a Merry Christmas, but making demands which become increasingly pushy. “Now bring us some figgy pudding, Now bring some out here….”
And, further, ominously, “We won’t go until we get some….”
(I do not recall getting any, period.)
What exactly was so compelling about figgy pudding? Likely it was a plum or even raisin pudding, or certainly a dried fruit pudding, rather than fig, and the song referenced above, though vaguely attributed to traditions in the West Country of England, was not pinned down and promoted until 1935 when the Bristol-based composer, conductor and organist Arthur Warrell published it as “A Merry Christmas.”
According to Kimberly Killebrew, of The Daring Gourmet, an early figgy pudding “was more of a wet, sticky, thick porridge consisting of boiled figs, water, wine, ground almonds, raisins and honey.”
Later cooks added ground meat and grains to the mix, and later still such evolved into a steamed pudding made with raisins. And brandy. Setting the completed fig-free pudding on fire was part of the fun, too, apparently.
Although… since some food historians claim figgy pudding comprised 13 ingredients, as in Christ and the 12 Apostles, and was served with a sprig of holly up top, i.e. the “crown of thorns,” this might have been construed as a tad over the top, and yet, Christmas in Christian terms denotes the birth of Jesus, rather than his demise, right? Puzzling.
Mind you, many religious traditions have made the fig their own, the most famous of which possibly is the tree in Bihar, India under which Gautama Buddha found wisdom. It’s known as the “bohdi, or enlightenment, tree.” Ficus religiosa. A cutting from this tree was carried to Sri Lanka and planted there in 288 BCE. It survives today, making it supposedly the oldest flowering plant in the world planted by humans.
And the fig tree is one of the earliest plants period, cultivated even before wheat, and possibly even the one that enticed the mythical Eve. Though the apple is often cited as that tempting offering, it cannot compare, surely, to the soft, oozing, often red inside, fig, in seductive terms. (Apples likely originated in Kazakhstan, not really the Middle East nor the Near East, both saidto be the original home of the fig.)
It’s a quick hop from the evocative fig to the fig leaf, which became the covering du jour for male genitalia during the Renaissance. (Children, avert your eyes.) Evidently the Greeks had been okay with guy displays, but covered their female equivalents. Come Christianity, however, it was “oops, we all are damned.” In some cases actual branches were used to cover painted privates, but by the era of Queen Victoria, plaster fig leaves were a booming business. The Queen’s copy of Michelangelo’s “David” was suitably fig-leafed.
Leaping ahead to 2003, Lloyd Kreitzer, known to many Corrales residents as “The Fig Man,” bought his first fig cutting in Albuquerque. He claimed, in a story by High Country News in 2014, that a month later he had 120 fig trees. And also that as a four-year-old, he loved climbing his uncle’s fig tree in Los Angeles.
Kreitzer joined the Peace Corps straight from college, and there dove into tropical agriculture, experiencing practices that enabled him to embrace the fig with some knowledge.
By now Kreitzer reckons he has tasted over 300 fig varieties, and has explored much of New Mexico in search of heritage fig and other fruit trees, including 150 year-old peach orchards in Mogollón.
According to Kreitzer, “ripe figs were for the rich in Europe, dried figs were for the poor.” The fig likely reached Mexico after a lengthy and arduous journey from Spain most likely via the Azores. Saplings would have been packed in boxes and as space allowed, gained spot on ships bound for Mexico, a two and a half month voyage.
These ships were chronically crowded with families and export goods, with shortages of water, yet somehow the fig trees were kept alive until they reached eastern Mexico ports. Thereafter they were transported on ox-drawn carts to Mexico City, a two and half week journey. The ox cart people were mainly concerned with the well being of their ox, first, then their carts, and then the cargo, so it appears that “respect for fig trees helped some arrive safely in Mexico City by 1535.” And from there later reached New Mexico.
Numerous immigrant groups over many generations brought figs with them to New Mexico. Kreitzer relates that in Silver City, in the Chihuahua Hills neighborhood, crypto-Jews planted figs in their front yards to signal that there were Jews living there.
Wherever a walled compound had two connecting walls, a micro-climate was created, and such has been a perfect spot for a fig, especially facing south, at least before the hard-hitting summers of climate change.
Los Poblanos: Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Los Ranchos has had decent success with its fig trees, one of which is said to be over 100 years old.
The Alvarado Hotel, built in Albuquerque in 1901, was the crown jewel of Harvey House hotels serving the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. It was home to numerous fig trees, and the garden manager invited local ranch kids to pick and eat the fruit.
Before The Alvarado was demolished in 1970, cuttings were made of the trees, and “The Fig Man” obtained cuttings of the cuttings. (Figs apparently grow easily from seeds, and from cuttings.) That meant Corrales’ Sandy Gold was able to buy one for her greenhouse about 10 years ago.
“He charged me way too much for it, in a one-gallon pot,” said Gold recently, “About $60.” Repotted into a much larger pot, the fig eventually exploded into the ground, its roots reaching hither and thither, and the tree continues to produce luscious fruit.
Exploding roots in Gold’s greenhouse, built by the Texas Greenhouse Company in about 2003, are not unusual. “Roots seek out other roots,” asserts Gold, whose affinity for encouraging plant life is well known locally.
So Gold’s fig from “The Fig Man” lived, but one in Jane Butel’s possession did not. “Lloyd's tree that was given to me died, though I have a friend with a huge fig tree.”
Southwest cooking guru and author Butel had no figgy pudding recipe but said “I love figs. One of my favorites is fig jam, made with some lemon juice, a bit of rind and fresh lavender. Actually, I make it several ways and it is heavenly on freshly baked cheddar-green chile biscuits.”
So, no figgy pudding from Butel. Maybe no one especially likes it?
My late mom’s fave cookie, the Fig Newton, which the rest of us deeply disliked, was first produced in 1891, and was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. The product thrived until joined by other “fruit-filled” biscuits in the 1980s, and was renamed in 2012. Henceforth it and they are known as Newtons.
Still don’t give a fig? Apparently that disparaging comment derives from the Spanish “fico,” or fig, which gave its name to a traditional gesture of contempt made by placing the thumb between the first and second fingers. The gesture was said to be common in Shakespeare's time and was known as “The Fig of Spain.” But why?
The fig — beloved, rude, feared, disliked—what a food!
Herewith, Jane Butel’s fig jam recipe:
Fig/Candied Ginger/Lemon Jam
I have always loved to make jam or preserves. With figs being so sweet, I have varied my basic favorite jam to the following proportions. You do not need to use pectin if you combine some unripe fruit pieces with the riper fruit. This is great for windfalls where you have to cut the bruised portions off.
Fundamentally you use ¾ cup sugar to each 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit. So you can make any sized quantity. If fruit is very sweet, you can cut back a bit on the sugar and add lemon juice —usually about 1 teaspoon lemon juice per cup of fruit or to taste.
Yield: 10, 8 ounce jars of jam
10 cups quartered fresh figs
¼ cup candied ginger, finely minced
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (need at least 2 Tablespoons juice)
6 cups sugar
See http://www.janebutelcooking.com All recipes are reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s publishers.
“The fig is the edible fruit of Ficus carica, a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Moraceae. Native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, it has been cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. Ficus carica is the type species of the genus Ficus, containing over 800 tropical and subtropical plant species.
A fig plant is a small deciduous tree or large shrub growing up to 7–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall, with smooth white bark. Its large leaves have three to five deep lobes. Its fruit (botanically an infructescence, a type of multiple fruit) is tear-shaped, 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin that may ripen toward purple or brown, and sweet soft reddish flesh containing numerous crunchy seeds. The milky sap of the green parts is an irritant to human skin. In the Northern Hemisphere, fresh figs are in season from late summer to early autumn. They tolerate moderate seasonal frost and can be grown even in hot-summer continental climates.”
And from Wikipedia:
Also see The Fig Man http://www.landofenfigment.com/
“There is a special job about being with figs because they are so ancient and so patient. They will be the last plant to leaf or fig in the spring. So do not be surprised if a month or two or five passes and then suddenly they leaf out.” Lloyd Kreitzer, The Fig Man
Have any ideas to address speeding in your neighborhood? Traffic congestion along Corrales Road? Trails and bike paths? Marijuana farms? Are you willing to work on those issues and others with the mayor and Village Council? If so, consider running for office in municipal elections coming up in early March. Deadline for declaring your candidacy is Tuesday, January 4. Positions will be open for mayor and Village Council Districts 1, 3 and 4.
You can pick up a candidate packet at the Village Office to learn what’s involved. If you can’t get to the Village Office January 4, you can run as a write-in candidate if you file the paperwork on January 11. Village Clerk Melanie Romero will accept a declaration of candidacy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those days, January 4 and January 11. Three seats on the six-member Village Council are available, now held by Kevin Lucero representing Council District 1 in northwestern Corrales; Mel Knight in District 3 in the central part of the village west of Corrales Road; and Tyson Parker representing District 4 for neighborhoods north and south of upper Meadowlark Lane.
See the council district map published in the December 4 issue of the Comment, or at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales -nm.org.
Terms are not expiring for the other three members of the Village Council: Bill Woldman in District 2; Zach Burkett in District 5; and Stu Murray in District 6. Their terms end in March 2024, as does that for Municipal Judge Michelle Frechette.
None of the incumbents has publicly stated whether he or she intends to seek re-election.
Although relatively new to the council, Parker’s term ends in March because he is filling out the term for former-Councillor Dave Dornburg, who resigned. Incidently, Dornburg had filled the term of John Alsobrook who also resigned, in 2016.
The municipal election will be held March 1. Early voting will start with the Village Clerk in the Village Office February 1, when requested absentee ballots will also go out.
Whoever is elected in March, major decisions likely will be needed for the following questions:
Three Sandoval County commissioners made a decision last week to dramatically alter the voting power of many Sandoval County residents, especially those who live in Corrales. The meeting held on December 9 was a follow-up to one held on November 18, when the commissioners presented potential redistricting maps to the public. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.20 December 4, 2021 “Gerrymandering: Is Corrales Voting Strength at Risk?”)
Former Republican Senator Rod Adair, whose business was contracted by Commissioner David Heil and Wayne Johnson, the County Manager, presented four maps he had drawn, and a private citizen, Isaac Chavez, presented one. Public support for what came to be known as “the Chavez Plan” was overwhelming at the meeting and in the comments on the county website.
Chairman Commissioner Heil found minor flaws in Chavez’s plan that according to him, made it obsolete. Many Sandoval County residents, as well as Commissioner Katherine Bruch, saw flaws in Adair’s plans as well. After this meeting, Chavez teamed up with Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald to visit with tribal leaders in the county, trying to quickly determine what should happen to make “the Chavez Plan,” now called “the Eichwald Plan,” better serve their needs.
Both Adair and Chavez made alterations to their plans, and brought these to the December meeting.
After almost three hours of public comment largely begging the commissioners to either delay making a decision or to move forward with the adoption of “the Eichwald Plan,” the three Republican commissioners who sit on the Sandoval County Commission decided to ignore the input of so many of their constituents and approve a map that may well be deemed illegal in the coming months or years.
To the surprise of many attending the meeting, Commissioner Jay Block not only rejected “the Eichwald Plan,” but also the altered Adair plan. And instead made a motion to approve one of the plans from the November 18 meeting. Quickly, Commissioner Heil seconded this motion. A vote ensued in which the commissioners voted along party lines.The new Sandoval County district map, uproots Corrales from its current district and places it with Bernalillo and Placitas.
It was revealed at the meeting that Adair’s hiring is particularly contentious and may open the door for litigious action to be taken against the commission. His contract, though over $10,000, is under the $60,000 limit that requires the approval of the full commission. Also, before his hiring, Adair stated that he would get input from local and tribal leaders before drawing his maps. At least one leader, Corrales’ own Mayor Jo Anne Roake, was not consulted.
Former Sandoval County Commissioner Donnie Leonard was involved in the last two Sandoval County redistricting efforts.
Leonard weighed in on the contentious decision made at the meeting, saying, “It’s my understanding that Native Americans are for sure going to sue.”
He went on to say, “In the past we tried to give all groups in the county fair representation. This time, that did not happen.”
Commissioners David Heil, Michael Meek and especially Commissioner Block, whose district includes Corrales, may be remembered for exposing Sandoval County government to expensive litigation, as well as for disregarding input from the county’s tribal leaders.
While perhaps ensuring a Republican majority on the Sandoval County Commission well into the future, the body is supposed to represent an overwhelmingly majority-Democratic population, so some of the commissioners may have put their own political futures in jeopardy.
As Block summarized, in perhaps his most candid moment of the evening, “You should never trust the government.”
On December 14, at their final meeting of the year, the Corrales Village Council scheduled crucial votes for a special session January 4 on possible new regulations on growing marijuana commercially. As a framework for their discussion, it is helpful to look to Corrales’ southern neighbors who are facing similar challenges, and are a few steps ahead. The Village of Los Ranchos has passed an ordinance that seems to reflect the views of villagers while also attempting to adhere to the rulings set forth in the 178-page House Bill 2, the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act (NMCRA).
Like Corrales, Los Ranchos originally adopted an ordinance outlawing the growing of cannabis within their village. Ordinance No. 273, which prohibited “the cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in the Village,” was adopted in March of 2021. After New Mexico passed its Cannabis Regulation Act, the governing body of Los Ranchos, called the board of trustees, began collecting and hearing data from residents, as well as legal and cannabis experts in August of this year.
According to Tiffany Justice, planning and zoning director in Los Ranchos, “The discussion was how can we abide by the CRA and still provide protection for Los Ranchos residents, since most of our zoning is agricultural/residential.” State Senate District 10 (Los Ranchos) Senator Katy Duhigg, who helped write the NMCRA, was present at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 6, along with Los Ranchos Attorney Nann Winter. Corrales Attorney Randy Autio was on the agenda for this meeting, but was not in attendance.
At this meeting, after Attorney Winter made a thorough presentation explaining the NMCRA, Director of Planning and Zoning Justice gave the trustees three options reflecting varying levels of regulation, from total prohibition of cannabis to total, if regulated, allowance. The board preferred the middle option, and after another month of tweaking, Ordinance 282 was finalized, then adopted on November 10, which repealed Ordinance 273.
This ordinance states that in all agricultural/residential areas of Los Ranchos, “The cultivation, intentional growth, manufacture, and distribution of cannabis and cannabis products, except for homegrown or homemade cannabis, are prohibited.” It is only in the Los Ranchos commercial/retail zone that cannabis may be cultivated, manufactured or sold, with many qualifications and limits. The Village Center Zone is exempt from this allowance and cannabis is prohibited there as well as in the agricultural/commercial zone.
Corrales councillors who fear lawsuits from the State could be emboldened by Los Ranchos’ actions, and perhaps take courage. As Los Ranchos resident Mel Eaves said at one of the board meetings, “If the Village has to protect villagers against the State… then the Village ought to do that.”