By Meredith Hughes
With cool air startlingly in abundance, the balloons are up, and safely down, we trust, through October 10 at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which returns after two years with Corrales’ Matt Guthrie continuing as president of the board. A new entry?
Remote-controlled (RC) balloons. These are considerably smaller than the ones flooding the skies, around 12 to 18 feet high, as compared to 100 to 120 feet tall.
On October 9 catch a mass ascension, night glow and fireworks. October 10, naturally, is the “Farewell Mass Ascension.” Sounds sweetly Biblical…..
You also can follow the fiesta live via YouTube, and catch up after the Fiesta as well. http://www.youtube.com/c/BalloonFiestaABQ.
Do visit the websites of your favorite museums, galleries and organizations to check opening times/new regulations. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date. email@example.com
Did You Know?
With Day of the Dead on its way, Corrales’ Poet Laureate, Rudy J. Miera, is inviting submissions of poetry from all ages for what he calls a Corrales Community Altar. The poems might include themes such as amor/love, recuerdos/memories, honor/recognition, and so on, in English or Spanish. And in haiku, free verse, or any style.
Type your work on a page 8 1/2x11 and include your name.
Poems will be accepted on Wednesdays and Thursdays this month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Casa Perea Art Space, 4829 Corrales Road. 503-7636.
Also, October 25, from 10 to 5 p.m., consider bringing photos, mementos, toys, and such for the Community Altar. Corrales Elementary students are working on artwork for this project.
The poems will be displayed on the altar at Casa Perea from October 28 to November 3. The grand opening is October 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. Miera reports that there will be an opening blessing by Mapitzmitl Xiukwetzpaltzin, aka Paz, founder of the Albuquerque-based Aztec dance group Ehecatl, ( named after the Aztec god of the wind,) which includes the ritual “four directions” blowing of the concha.
The altar will come down by November 4, so plan to retrieve your items before that.
By Mary Davis
West Ella at Old Church Road, 1963
Did you know that this is what the intersection of West Ella and Old Church Road looked like in 1963?
Few or no houses, dirt roads, a pony cart and a solitary fence. The entire length of Ella Drive from the Sandoval Lateral on the east to the Main Canal on the west had been platted (subdivided) in 1955 by Ella Gonzales Silva.
Ella, for whom the road was named, was the youngest daughter of Alejandro Gonzales, a prominent Corrales resident who had farmed the entire stretch of land for decades. From this 1963 photograph, it appears that little of the western portion of the large Vista Corrales Subdivision had been filled in during the previous eight years. However, an aerial mid-1970s photograph shows at least 20 houses had been built between the old Corrales Acequia and the Main Canal, and even a few had appeared west of the canal.
Corrales began to grow significantly in the 1970s. The completion of the I-25 freeway in 1966 certainly made it an easier commute into Albuquerque.
John Green took this photograph. He had built his home in 1952 near West Ella on 25 empty acres between Old Church Road and the Main Canal. The woman on the buggy is Matilda Palladini who lived on La Entrada and was one of the Green family’s closest neighbors. Today, Milagro Winery sits on the southwest corner of the intersection.
This information was provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. Want to learn more? Visit http://www.CorralesHistory.org. New CHS members are always welcome.
Photograph courtesy of Jane Green
Restoration of the old one-room schoolhouse where Corrales kids were taught from the 1870s until 1925 is to be complete before next summer. John 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. Perea hopes to complete installation of a new floor and roof sometime before spring. “We would be very fortunate to have the electrical done and have a certificate of occupancy by next spring.
“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 last month 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.
“We had a look at the roof and found the beautiful original rough-cut lumber roof.”
Perea said he believes the lumber came from a mill in the Jemez Valley; he has ordered more for the replacement floor. “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. “Right now we’re working on the front entrance, stabilizing and re-building that and putting a roof over that part. Then we’ll move to the back part of the house.”
He intends to use rough-cut lumber and mud plaster as much as possible to keep the old school house’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 school house to burn in the stove that warmed the classroom.
Once the restoration is finished, Perea anticipates that groups like the Corrales Veterans of Foreign Wars post will meet in what used to be the classroom, along with the Tractor Club, the Kiwanis Club and others.
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.”
Corrales physician Karam Sonu Bhalla, specializing in internal medicine and anesthesiology, has opened a practice in Corrales. He has implemented a “concierge” model which offers a more intensive, personalized approach to health care. The first Corrales physician to offer such a practice here, Alyson Thal, opened Corrales Family Practice in 2012.
Raised in India, Bhalla earned his medical degree at the University of Tennessee in Memphis followed by residencies in internal medicine and anesthesiology at the University of New Mexico. Subsequently, he has worked with Presbyterian, Kaseman, Davita and Lovelace administrations. In opening his practice here, Bhalla said he tries to integrate western medical care approaches from healing traditions in his native India. He works with patients who may not want to take pills as their first course of treatment, and gives priority to preventive care.
The physician said his experience in conventional clinic settings trouble him because visits were scheduled too tightly to allow for real interaction between doctor and patient. His office, Indigo Health MD, is in the Territorial Plaza building on Corrales Road, just north of Coronado Road.
Engineer Michael Smerechniak died August 19, at 94.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering at New York University, and parlayed his education into a career building aircraft such as the still-in service A-10 Warthog, B-1 Lancer and the Space Shuttle.
He was the father of Elena Kayak.
He met his future wife, Marie Jo Miera, through her cousin, Eduardo E. Gallegos, and married at the UNM Thomas Aquinas Newman Center. They raised a family in Queens, New York.
He was an avid stock market investor and recommended Apple stock to anyone he met. His mantra was “The more I give, the more I receive.” His most recent donation was made with his wife, to contribute to feed the Corrales vaccination pod workers as they helped stop the spread of COVID.
His hearty, appreciative laugh and sense of humor will be missed by everyone, including friends at the Meadowlark Senior Center who enjoyed his sharing the “Word-of-the-Day” calendar at lunchtime.
A Day of the Dead event is planned at Casa Perea Art Space, 4829 Corrales Road, October 30 through November 4. Corrales Poet Laureate Rudy Miera invites submission of poetry in any form for the event, along with photos, mementos, toys and other remembrances for a “Corrales community altar.” Miera will receive poetry in haiku, free verse or any style on Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Casa Perea Art Space. Poems should be typed on an eight-and-a-half by 11 sheet of paper that includes the author’s name. Themes for submitted poetry are love/amor, recuerdos/memories and honor or recognition.
Anything to be included in the community altar should be submitted on Monday, October 25 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Casa Perea.
The Día de los Muertos exhibit opening will be on Saturday, October 30, 6-9 .m.
More than 60 artists will have their work displayed in the Old Church through October10. The Old Church Fine Arts Show, now in its 33 year, is a collaboration between the Corrales Historical Society and the Corrales Society of Artists. The juried exhibit is free and open to the public with COVID-19 precautions maintained. No admission is charged and parking is free. The show will be online starting October 11, continuing until October 31 at http://www.corralesoldchurchshow.com.
All art is for sale; a portion of proceeds will support ongoing efforts to preserve the Old Church.
Corrales artists in the show include Elaine Bolz, Candace Bates-Cavellier, Dennis Chamberlain, Barbara Clark, Sandra Corless, Linda Dillenback, Ken Duckert, Susana Erling, Diana Fisch, Gail Harrison, Lucy Jelinek Hays, Ura Lemen, Lange Marshall, Kenneth Martinez, Victoria Mauldin, Sue Ellen Rael, Jude Rudder, Tina Stallard and Mary Sue Walsh.
Other exhibitors are from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Placitas, Pecos, Socorro, Santa Fe, Edgewood, Tijeras, Los Ranchos, Las Cruces and Cedar Crest.
By Stephani Dingreville
Lights, camera, action in Corrales!
Corraleños are learning that one side effect of living in a picturesque place is the presence of film crews. Three productions recently have been filmed in Corrales, filling our little village with trucks and trailers full of lights, cameras and actors. One of Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin’s jobs is to grant permits to production companies who want to film here. The permit process is fairly simple, but quick turn-arounds make it difficult to warn all Corrales inhabitants of traffic or noise trouble.
Permit applications must be submitted a minimum of five days before filming begins. The application is for a specific location; this information is public domain, and all residents and businesses within 300 feet of the filming are to be alerted. The Village application fee for a film permit is $100, and companies pay $250 per day of filming. That money goes directly to Village government, as well as any rental fees if the production companies use public land or parking lots.
Many of the productions that come to Corrales are based out of one of three nearby studios, I-25 Studios, Nob Hill Studios and Albuquerque Studios, which was bought by Netflix in 2018. Often, production companies rent studio space at one of these large studios and from that home base, they come to Corrales for location shoots. In fact, Albuquerque Studios has three different Corrales locations featured in the “Location Book” they provide to production companies, enticing them to come to the Albuquerque metro area to film.
Other times, production companies set up a “base camp” in Corrales, as the Twentieth television series Big Sky has recently done in the parking lot of the Cottonwood Montessori School. Big Sky is an American crime drama thriller series created by David E. Kelley and based on The Highway series of books by C. J. Box. The ABC series will present its second season at the end of September.
The hustle and bustle of the Wednesday Growers’ Market recently was less fruit and vegetable, more film crews whipping about, their huge rigs parked in the recreation center parking lot on Corrales Road. Growers’ Market chief Al Gonzales wondered how long they would be there and how much they were paying the Village to use the space, but he was equally concerned that the sweet corn sellers from Moriarty, Schwebach Farm, had not shown up with product. After filming the first season of Big Sky in British Colombia, the second season is being filmed in New Mexico. Gjullin asserts that as of September 17, all of the permits filed have been for the so-called Sears House location, at 4036 Corrales Road.
John Perea, owner of Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar, has mixed feelings about the film industry. Perea’s Bar is one of the locations featured in the location book offered by Albuquerque Studios. A quintessentially Corrales locale, Perea’s Bar is a favorite place for Corraleños to grab lunch on the patio or a drink at the bar. The dark, historical interior and thick adobe walls make it a desirable location for film crews. In the last month, the horror movie 312, which is still in production, filmed inside the bar. “It was a learning experience,” Perea says dryly. The bar had to be silent for the filming, so the air conditioner had to be turned off, and all the windows had to be blacked out. The crew also used a smoke machine to set the stage. “As a result of all the smoke and heat, one of the cast member’s wives, who was pregnant, passed out,” Perea recalled. The Corrales Fire Department had to be sent for, and the woman was revived. When asked if he thought his business benefited from the presence of film crews in Corrales, Perea says “maybe a little bit. Most of the film crews bring in their own catering, so I don’t seem to see much extra business when the crews are in town.”
Tijuana Bar once even hosted a wrap party after filming, however the production company brought in their own food. “The film industry is kind of bizarre,” John concludes. Corrales Elementary School teacher Ursula Kelly generally concurred, “I think the film industry is a double-edged sword. They come here for that rural feeling, but just being here they lessen what attracted them in the first place.”
Some villagers are happy to see the film industry’s presence in Corrales. Stevie Kuenzler lives on Priestly Road, off of Corrales Road just north of the Sears house, where Big Sky was being filmed. In his words, the filming “has all been positive in our eyes. Exciting too!”
Kyle Caraway is a life-time Corrales resident who has been working in the film industry for 14 years, giving him a unique perspective on this topic. He believes the film industry “provides opportunities to young New Mexicans who may have never had the chance to better their lives through a steady high-paying job with benefits and a retirement.” Caraway works as a “leadman” in set decorating, and so has lots of opportunities to shop locally for objects used to decorate the set. He says he always tries to shop within the host-community when possible. “We as a village should be welcoming more income for our small village businesses, not trying to push it away.”
According to Jennifer Esquivel, senior manager of marketing and communications for the New Mexico Film Office (NMFO), there are many different opportunities for villagers who would like to be directly involved in filming. They can list their property (homes, land, buildings and/or cars) in the NMFO’s location database which is found at http://www.nmfilm.com. Also found on this website is information about casting calls for anyone who would like to audition for a role. Esquivel advises checking out casting agency websites or their social media feeds. Lastly, she suggests Corrales business owners visit the website to become qualified film vendors and offer goods and services to the industry.
As the film industry grows in New Mexico, Corraleños may need to get used to seeing even more lights, more cameras and more action.
By Stephani Dingreville
Villagers have been wondering about the seeming halt to construction happening at the much anticipated Local Motive restaurant site on Corrales Road. According to Shannon Byrne, one of the founders of the proposed restaurant, the setbacks have been result of many factors. Shipment of certain materials and equipment needed to move forward with construction has suffered a nearly six-month delay, thanks to those pesky COVID supply chain issues that have brought so many projects to a halt. Byrne also says the “complicated nature of building a kitchen for a full-service restaurant in a building that has not been updated in over 30 years” is a factor in the delay of opening. Lastly is the need for site development plan approval from the Village.
This is where Laurie Stout comes in. She is the Planning and Zoning Administrator for the Village, and it is her job to help businesses put together the proposals they will bring in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Helping businesses work through the red tape and put together a full, appealing package to show the commission is the part of her job she likes best. Stout has helped countless businesses gain approval from the P&Z commission. She reports the plans for Local Motive were not quite finished to get them in front of the board during the September meeting, which filled up quickly. They were instead pushed to the October 20 meeting. According to Stout, the construction cannot move forward until these plans are approved.
In spite of having to move the target date for opening from fall 2021 to spring 2022, the founders’ enthusiasm for the project has not waned, nor has their vision changed. Byrne says their vision “is to create an iconic, memorable café experience in the Village of Corrales that is worthy of the unique and inclusive character of the community.” The menu will be “simple yet comprehensive, utilizing local goods where possible.”
Byrne says the restaurant plans to offer breakfast until 2 p.m. “including fresh juices,” and lunch/dinner items such as “salads, sandwiches, pasta and other entrees” until the doors close at 9 p.m. Byrne adds “we will also have ice cream and locally inspired desserts like apple pie.”
Also of interest is the Corrales-focused nature of the space. Byrne says, “Because we’re proud to be a part of the Corrales community, we’ll feature things that make our village unique —a special wall dedicated to the Pet Mayors of Corrales, as well as a community tile project to be featured on the exterior wall facing Corrales Road. We’ll also look for opportunities to collaborate with the school, church and other businesses to ensure we form an integral part of our community.”
Community will be the focus of the restaurant, and to that end, Byrne says they would “like to offer beer and wine to enhance that fabulous experience.” According to Stout, this might create further delays for the opening. She predicts a second public hearing will be necessary after the October 20 meeting “to discuss the alcohol issue.”
The restaurant’s proximity to Corrales Elementary School may mean the founders will need special permission from Albuquerque Public Schools to serve beer and wine. At the corner of Perea and Corrales Roads, the restaurant site sits just across the street from the school. APS Associate Superintendent Amanda DeBell says there is a State statute that requires at least 300 feet distance between a school and a business selling alcohol.
This statute, number 60-6B-10, is found in the 1978 Compilation of the New Mexico State Statutes Annotated. There it is stated: “A license may be granted for a proposed licensed premises if a person has obtained a waiver from a local option district governing body for the proposed licensed premises. For the purposes of this section, all measurements taken in order to determine the location of licensed premises in relation to churches or schools shall be the straight line distance from the property line of the licensed premises to the property line of the church or school.”
As clear as this document seems, it could actually be a cloudy issue that might just come down to the location of Local Motive’s front door. This was the case in 2012 for a Giant convenience store, located in Santa Fe.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that the store wanted to begin selling alcohol, but the City Council voted against giving them a license because of the store’s proximity to Sweeney Elementary School. The store appealed the decision, and the case went all the way up to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, where a judge decided the store could indeed proceed with selling alcohol because the front door of the establishment was more than 300 feet away from the front door of the school.
Obviously, a cafe selling beer and wine is very different from a convenience store selling liquor. In Byrne’swords, “Our goal is for Local Motive to be a place to gather, to socialize, to share food, a glass of wine, and stories. It’s most certainly not a bar.”
The village will be watching and waiting for this new venture to come rolling in.
By Stephani Dingreville
Imagine you discovered $4.7 million dollars in excess funds in one of your bank accounts. Before you spent a penny, wouldn’t you first want to find out how it got there?
That was the first step the Corrales Village Council took when $4.7 million was discovered in a Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) at the end of 2019. McHard Accounting Consulting LLC, a forensic accounting firm located in Albuquerque, was engaged to this end. The McHard firm was to perform an assessment of the LGIP funds and make a determination their origin. Anne M. Layne, partner of the firm and Janet McHard, the firm’s founding partner came to deliver their report to the village council during the August 2020 council meeting.
Layne reported that for many years in a row, the Village revenues outpaced the Village expenditures. She explained that this is something that often goes unnoticed in organizations, where the focus tends to be on budgeting rather than on actual spending.
Councillor Zachary Burkett spoke up, saying “This is a real $4.8 million dollars in an account. It seems like at some point the debits and the credits on our budget would not have matched up and shown that we have millions of real dollars in surplus or hundreds of thousands each year. How do make sure that we catch that so that we do not have to retroactively go back and try and find out? Was there anything in particular you saw that we should address?”
Layne responded: “What I noticed, is that there were a couple years where some of your revenues coming through the general fund had exceeded what you had budgeted. A lot of that seemed to be allocations from the state that you maybe did not expect.” McHard then advised: “You may want to look at what kind of reporting you are getting on a quarterly basis so that you can see what is actually happening. When things are going well with the budget, then it typically does not come before council.”
This determination of the origin of the funds revealed them to be indeed free and clear to be spent however the village wants.
The council was advised caution by the firm, saying they should first reconcile all their accounts before spending the sum. Layne advised: “It may be prudent to keep the whole balance until after the reconciliation.” At the same meeting, Village Administrator Ron Curry stated his goal to have the reconciliation finished by the end of the calendar year.
On September 8, 2020, Administrator Curry reported that Reyna Aragon, finance officer for the Village, had begun working with Josh Trujillo’s firm, SJT Group LLC on “the detailed reconciliations.” He also restated: “We expect [the reconciliation] to go on through the end of the year.”
The next mention came in October 2020 at a Governing Body regular meeting, when Councillor Bill Woldman asked Administrator Curry if it was “possible to have a work study sometime in the future regarding the LGIP funds. Just to see what we should spend the money on, how much we should set aside and having a discussion about that.” Administrator Curry responded that it was a “great idea,” saying, “right now we are finishing up the bank reconciliations which we expect to have done by December. So I think we could have a work study early next year.” After this, the draft minutes from the December 2020 meeting list a “LGIP Funds Work Study” as a “future agenda item.”
This is around the time that Corrales Comment’s Meredith Hughes presented the compelling argument around using some of these funds for the Corrales Pathway Project. She quoted a persuasive letter from former Corrales MainStreet board member Deborah Blank. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.14 October 10, 2020 “$4.7 Million to Pathways?”)
Fast forward to February of 2021, when the next Village Council mention about this sum comes again from Administrator Curry. This time he asserts: “We are going to be working internally with some of our folks on the financial team. We have to discuss what we are going to do with this money.” Curry goes on to say: "I look forward to bringing something to council in late March.”
The next mention of this fund in Village Council minutes comes in the way of Resolution No. 21-26, which was approved at the July 20 Village Council meeting. This resolution first clarifies the definition of the LGIP, saying “The New Mexico Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) is a fund created by legislation to allow municipal, city, county, tribe, and quasi-governmental bodies to voluntarily remit money to the State Treasurer’s Office to receive professional money management on a pooled basis.”
The exact amount in the LGIP fund is then clarified to be $4,360,997.79. The discrepancy between the original $4.7 million and this new sum may be a result of the account reconciliation performed by the SJT Group. Resolution No. 21-26 states that according to the rules of the LGIP, the village may spend the money any way it considers appropriate.
After these clarifications, the following resolutions are included. First is the decision that the Village will only spend half of the pooled monies, keeping the other $2,180,498.90 in the fund. The resolution then stipulates that the funds will not be spent on “payroll, recurring expenses or any subscriptions.” Lastly, it is resolved that the “Governing Body will approve any monies extended from the pool. “
According to Mayor JoAnneRoarke, this resolution represents the most recent action the Village has taken on these funds. Presumably, the Village has over $2 million in ready money, waiting on the perfect project to come along and spend it.
Two members of the Corralitos 4-H Club, Abigail McSween and Aiden Ashbrook, took top honors at a Youth Small Animal Expo organized by Sandoval County extension agents. The event attracted more than 240 entries of rabbits and poultry from around the state. McSween won best of show in the rabbit special fur competition, while Ashbrook took best of breed in the poultry competition. They won $400 in prize money. Anna Jacobson, of the Jemez Mountain Stallion 4-H Club, won the Trio Best of Show title. The competition was organized after State Fair officials cancelled the usual small animal shows due to COVID vaccine requirements.
Corrales Elementary School had a successful 2021 Jog-A-Thon in spite of the pandemic, earning a record $27,000. According to Kristen Coffman, vice president of the Corrales Elementary PTA, success was due to the “spirit and attitudes of the runners,” as well as many sponsors. “The school would like to thank the entire community for all their contributions, especially our sponsors: Edgerly Properties, 8 Grady’s, Dr. John A. Salazar, Pawsh Pet Grooming, Property Partners, Inc. and Raylee Homes.” Prizes were awarded for the top earner in each classroom, as well as the top-earning class. A spirit award was also given out.
Aaron Gjullin has resigned as Village Clerk to continue his education to become a physician. He replaced the previous clerk, Shannon Fresquez, in May 2020. He had worked for the Village of Corrales since 2008 when he was hired as a lifeguard at the recreation center, and was promoted to head life guard in 2017. Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts observed his work and dedication and hired him as an assistant in the Parks and Recreation Department, a position he held before appointment as Village Clerk.
Gjullin earned a degree at the University of Portland after studying biology and mathematics. In the Portland area, he was general manager of a large farm from 2014 to 2017. In 2018, he was an administrative assistant in the Village Office here. In recent years, he has also managed the Village’s website and other digital media tasks. Corrales Comment expects to publish an interview with Gjullin in a following issue to share what he has learned about how Village government functions and possible advice for his successor.
Balloon Fiesta week is here, when Corrales eyes turn upward to see jeweled skies, with bursts of colorful balloons festooned in the atmosphere like so many Christmas ornaments. Of course the scenery closer to the ground is not so pretty. Lines of crawling cars seem to be everywhere. This year, the traffic seems especially bad, due to a confluence of several events. The Balloon Fiesta is certainly a factor, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to Albuquerque on a normal year. Even during the pandemic, the fiesta is expected to attract tens of thousands of people, and that influx can be felt on the streets of our little village. Many more travelers than usual seem to be enjoying our scenic byway.
Police records in Corrales show that August of 2021 was one of the highest months for traffic accidents in the last two years. This may be because of our “return to normal” including a return to in-person schooling. Add to this the trend of commuters returning to the office, and the numbers begin to explain themselves. Perhaps our newly paved road invites more carelessness in drivers. In any case, villagers and tourists alike should keep their eyes on the road during this beautiful but dangerous season.
Proposed construction of a casita —or alternatively, an office and workshop— at 66 Bad Coyote Place was approved by the Village Council after a September 16 hearing at which Ken and Kathleen DeHoff expressed disagreement with decisions by the Planning and Zoning Office. Initially they had sought a building permit for a 600 square-foot structure labeled as a casita, but that was rejected by Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout. The DeHoffs re-submitted plans with modifications including re-labelling areas as an office and workshop, and that was rejected as well. Another re-submittal came August 15. which the P&Z administrator approved. But in the DeHoffs’ appeal, they asked the Village Council to overturn Stout’s rejection of the original plan.
In their appeal to the Village Council, they argued, “The first submission of July 19 referred to the area as a casita with bedroom and kitchen with no appliances. The second submission of July 21 referred to the same physical area as a shop with a workbench and an office. It is clear in these two rejections that the Village takes a capricious and ambiguously broad interpretation of your new law, such that no reasonable person will be able to guess at what you may consider valid.”
The appeal further asserted that “Laurie’s stated ‘inferred conclusion’ in both rejections is that my space referred to as a casita or shop is independent and thus a dwelling unit. However, the space is not independent and not complete. There is no evidence that it by itself meets the ordinance definition for dwelling unit. The language of the ordinance is clear and unambiguous, and attempts to ‘interpret’ are capricious as best.”
After lengthy discussion on the appeal and Village Attorney Randy Autio’s defense of actions taken by the P&Z administrator, the council went into closed session to deliberate. At 7:15 p.m. they returned to an open session via Zoom and voted to uphold Stout’s rejections while finding the DeHoffs’ last submission acceptable. The backdrop for all of this has been P&Z’s approval of a casita at a new home construction site on West Ella Drive more than a year ago. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”) Stout referred to that earlier controversy with chagrin at the DeHoffs’ September 17 appeal hearing. “I wish I could take it back. In hindsight, I made a mistake.”
Corrales has done it again. Our community has distinguished itself as a paragon of democratic values and inclusivity by electing a peacock as Pet Mayor. Voters passed over five dogs, a cat and a goose to choose the village’s 2021-22 Pet Mayor when dollars were counted on what would have been the last day of the Corrales Harvest Festival. Most often, the winning candidate has been a dog or a horse. Without exhaustive research, Peacock James is considered the first of his kind in New Mexico to assume the title of Pet Mayor.
He and his companion, Kristyn Mader, picked up his victory ribbon and prize basket at the Village Mercantile Sunday, September 26. Other key Village pet appointments based on election results named Bliss, the service dog in training, as Village Administrator, and Standard Poodle Jewel as Chief of Police. The Canada goose, Mimers is now Corrales’ Pet Municipal Judge, and Nessie, the Newfoundland dog, is the Pet Fire Chief. Odin, the Great Pyrennes, was named Director of Barks and Recreation. The luxurious cat, Lugh, is Fire Commander, having declined appointment as Dog Catcher.
In the offing: a new, kinder and gentle Corrales Pet Police Department. Jewel, the poodle, ran on a platform that Corrales, and the world, “need more love, belly rubs and paws-itivity.” This year’s Pet Mayor election raised nearly $2,000 for animal causes, according to organizer Tracy Stabenow. “I want to thank you all for entering this year’s Pet Mayor election. All of you worked hard campaigning, and your efforts are greatly appreciated. Although the festival did not happen this year, the Pet Mayor election still raised almost $2,000 for animals in the village.”
Dollar-ballot voting was held at stores and at the Corrales Growers’ Market events on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The Halloween trick-or-treat party at the Corrales Recreation Center is back on! But it will be in daylight hours rather than spooky night time, according to Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts. The time had not been set by press time for this issue. Referred to here as a “Trick or Trunk or Trailer” event, the basic idea is that kids, and older folks show up in Halloween costume and bravely enter creatively assembled haunted houses, make-shift graveyards and other scary settings in transformed vehicles to collect candy or other treats.
“We are going to do the event,” Siverts said October 4. “We are going to be changing the time to be a daytime activity, and we are going to get rid of the balloon portion due to it being daytime.
“We are going to need donations of candy and vehicles to participate. We will not have electrical power this year, as we don’t see a need because of the daylight. That can change if someone says they need power.
“We don’t have all the information yet, due to this just being planned, but we need to do something so the kids get their holiday that so many people love.”
At a work-study session October 5, Mayor Jo Anne Roake and members of the Village Council considered recommendations from Village Attorney Randy Autio on how to offer homeowners more protection from intensive marijuana-growing operations without running afoul of State law. Those recommendations were not made available to Corrales Comment by the deadline for this issue. But based on the attorney’s earlier advice, greater protections from cannabis odors, ventilation fan noise and grow-lights could be possible by requiring wider set-backs from residents’ property lines.
Complaints about disturbances from already-existing cannabis operations in Corrales have been lodged with Village officials. The following came from a resident near the greenhouses in the Corrales del Norte neighborhood operated by Spencer Komadina: “It is 12:45 a.m. September 25, 2021. The stench from Komadina’s pot facility woke me up.” On October 2, the same neighbor reported “It’s 9:30 p.m. and it smells like a frat pot party down here. We have to keep our windows closed.” Mayor Roake seeks remedies that could withstand legal challenge if commercial pot growers claim their right to farm cannabis established in state statute is infringed.
Last month the mayor said “We know state legalization of cannabis is causing many communities, including Corrales, concern. Many people are not necessarily opposed to cannabis, but they don’t want it next to their residences. “This is hard to achieve in a community like ours which doesn’t have industrial zones, and is zoned almost entirely as ‘agricultural one acre’ (A-1) and ‘agricultural two acres’(A-2), but we’re working on it.” In coming weeks, the Village Council is expected to amend its ordinance regulating the growing of marijuana. The mayor and council will take public comment at their October 12 meeting before voting on amendments to Ordinance No. 21-06.
At the September 14 council meeting, the council heard from the Village Attorney but insisted they were inclined to face cannabis growers’ lawsuits if it comes to that. A big problem is that Corrales has no alternative land use zoning category, such as one for light industry, to which any proposal for intensive cannabis growing could be directed. Autio advised the mayor and council that, as Corrales’ law and land use plan exist now, any attempt to block or obstruct large-scale marijuana growing here would almost surely face a lawsuit. Mayor Roake, a lawyer, concurred. “We will be sued and we will lose.” But some councillors said the Village shouldn’t be deterred by such a threat, arguing that it is more important to protect residents here than to be intimidated by possible legal action.
Councillors indicated they are likely to address residents’ concerns about negative impacts from large-scale cannabis growing and processing by requiring that such operations have much greater set-backs from residences. Although some councillors wanted to impose a moratorium on marijuana-growing permit applications, Autio advised the Village legally cannot do that. On the other hand, the attorney pushed back on the notion that Corrales is particularly at risk for being overrun by cannabis businesses. “We have a couple of things in our favor,” he said.
Land in Corrales is expensive, and therefore not optimal for any agricultural venture. Furthermore, we don’t have a municipal water system and we don’t have many large commercial buildings. “We are not going to be the popular choice for growing marijuana,” Autio said. “Corrales is not a likely place for marijuana growers to target.” But they already have, some would argue, pointing to the greenhouse complex operated by Spencer Komadina.
At least four villagers have weighed in on the need for tighter restrictions on cannabis operations based on their experience with the Komadina operation. They took issue, as did residents in other parts of the Village, that marijuana growing should be treated no differently from any other crop. In his remarks to the council, former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto said comparing marijuana-growing as just the same as any other crop is ridiculous. “To consider cannabis as a regular crop plant is ludicrous. It’s much different than other crop plants,” he said , because “a pound of it in New Mexico sells for up to $4,500. Second, it’s frequently grown intensively in enclosed structures, which have 24-7 operations requiring huge amounts of water and electricity and high security measures such as fences, wires, lights and window bars;
“Third, in New Mexico, the regulation of cannabis businesses covers pages and pages of rules, regulations, certifications and licensures, and fourth, New Mexico limits me to growing only six plants in my backyard; it doesn’t limit me to only six chile plants or six stalks of corn. Municipalities and counties in many states have setbacks up to 1,000 feet for cannabis grow structures from residential property lines. Corrales says, ‘25 feet.’” Hashimoto argued that establishing more restrictive setbacks for cannabis operations in residential neighborhoods can survive any legal challenge. “Such setback restrictions are not prohibiting use; they allow, but set limits.
“Attorneys might say, the Village can get sued if it steps out too far. Really, the Village can get sued if it does or it doesn’t. Other municipalities and counties are protective of their residential neighborhoods. Corrales isn’t.” The former council member contended that, unlike some other municipalities that might want to control cannabis operations, Corrales could withstand a lawsuit asserting it had acted capriciously in enacting tighter restrictions.
Prospects that the Village might buy the Corrales Road frontage adjacent to, and just north of, Wells Fargo Bank advanced in late summer. An appraisal is expected this month or next 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.
A sustained effort by villagers to acquire the Gonzales property for a variety of public purposes began more than four years ago, although elected officials remained mostly lukewarm to the idea. Finally, back in May, 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.
Discussions by the mayor and council have come mainly in executive (closed) sessions which is typical when the governing body is considering real estate transactions. But at the tail end of the Village Council’s September 28 meeting, Councillor Mel Knight suggested she would like an update on the Village’s exploration of that option, wondering whether an appraisal had come in.
Village Administrator Ron Curry 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. 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 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 n ot 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.”)
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 quotes 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.
“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.
Hector Gonzales died in March 2019.
With nearly a quarter-million dollars in hand, work could begin quickly on the long-delayed trails, or paths, along upper Meadowlark Lane from Loma Larga to Rio Rancho. A state grant for $243,500 was formally accepted by the Village Council at its September 28 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 two years ago. But it’s complicated. Corrales got a grant for almost as much, $214,000, in 2011 but turned the grant back to the Mid-Region Council of Governments due to strong opposition among homeowners along upper Meadowlark who insisted the initial plan would cause multiple problems including damage from stormwater drainage and collisions with cyclists.
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. (See Corrales Comment series on trails, starting with Vol. XXVIII, No.18, November 7, 2009 “First Steps to Implement Village-wide Trails Plan”) Opposition apparently arose after then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer called a neighborhood meeting in 2011 to discuss the project, as he said he did with other roadway projects. He said several residents were upset that they hadn’t known of the project earlier. 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.
Fast forward, and forward and forward to 2018 when reconstruction of Meadowlark from Loma Larga to Rio Rancho was set to begin. 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 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 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 Ron 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, Village Engineer Steve 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.
This time, Mayor Jo Anne Roake mentioned the Zoom meeting in her September “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.”)
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.”)
During his July 24 briefing, Village Engineer Steve 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. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No. 11 July 24, 2021 “Upper Meadowlark Trails Plan Has Uphill Bike Path.”)
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, according to Grollman. Listening to the discussion, which included no objections from members of the Bicycle, Pedestrial Advisory Commission, Curry was optimistic. “I would like to think it could be done by the end of the year,” he ventured. At that time, Grollman said he was about two-thirds finished with the design.
In July 2013, villagers convened for a planning charrette to develop realistic proposals for better using the exceptionally wide right-of-way. The sessions led by Architectural Research Consultants under contract to the Village attempted to resolve ongoing conflicts over the future of upper Meadowlark Neighbor-against-neighbor conflict had erupted over anticipated disruptions from the earlier funded project to construct bike trails along one or both sides of upper Meadowlark.
The council chambers had been packed for the contentious April 12, 2011 council meeting at which the Meadowlark trail (as a stand-alone project not accompanying re-construction of the driving lanes as well) was voted down. Several of those residents spoke at the council meeting, citing safety issues, especially given the sight distances when pulling out from their driveways onto Meadowlark, and drainage concerns.
Recently reflecting on the saga of struggles to install trails along Meadowlark west of Loma Larga, a nearby resident, Linda Hoeltke, wondered. “I am not sure why the plans for upper Meadowlark are so difficult. It should line up with Rio Rancho’s construction, with landscaping similar to, or better than, Rio Rancho’s. Just sayin.’”
Carjack incident: Shots fired on Corrales Road
Approximately 12:15PM today
According to the Corrales Police Department, a pick-up truck with the keys in it was stolen from a residence on West Meadowlark. Two Hispanic males pulled up to the residence in a “reddish / possibly orange smaller SUV or crossover.” One of the males, who was “younger” got out of the SUV and into the truck, then both of the suspects drove off together. The owner of the truck, upon seeing the perpetrators take his vehicle, followed the suspects in his second vehicle, a minivan. All three cars proceeded down West Meadowlark and North on Corrales Road. During this time, the younger suspect shot at the minivan from the moving truck. Both suspects stopped in front of Perea’s restaurant with the owner in his minivan pulling up just behind. The younger suspect shot at the minivan, hitting his passenger side, then got into the SUV with the older suspect and drove north on Corrales Road, turning east on Target Road. Corrales Elementary School was put on lockdown, due to the proximity of the incident to the school. The lockdown has since been lifted.
The Lost Leonardo Directed by Andreas Koefoed.Plugs: None. Nearest: Cottonwood, the Guild (9/26-9/30), or streaming.
The Lost Leonardo is a documentary film about the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold, claimed to be a long-lost masterpiece by none other than Leonardo da Vinci.
First appearing —suspiciously— a at New Orleans auction house, its two buyers paid a few thousand dollars for it, and apparently became convinced it was not what it first appeared to be (one of countless paintings done in Leonardo’s style) but was in fact painted by Leonardo himself. As it changes hands and experts (or “experts”) take sides about the painting’s authenticity, the price climbs and the stakes rise. Soon the world’s most famous art museums are involved, along with shady dealers and sketchy billionaires.
The Lost Leonardo is about art, but it’s even moreso a human story of psychology, deception, greed, commerce, and —strangely— international finance and money laundering. Even those who think that Thomas Kinkade is the pinnacle of painting talent will appreciate this film.
The film deftly moves around the globe, following experts and money, with stops in Berlin, New York, London, Geneva, and, well, let’s just say points further east. Though The Lost Leonardo is technically a documentary, it’s really more of a real-life mystery and thriller, due in large part to the film’s clever structure. It’s got a cast of characters ranging from nerdy to flamboyant, erudite to arrogant. I won’t give away too much of the story here, as the twists this film takes are best unpredicted.
The Lost Leonardo is partly about how and why people believe. As one expert notes, “Expectations are dangerous because you see what you want to see.” In this case people —including art historians, museum curators, and art dealers— wanted to see a long-lost painting by Leonardo, along with the accompanying publicity and quickly escalating price tag. In the case of Salvator Mundi, there’s clear financial and psychological incentive for many people along the way to endorse it as real. Many things —and art in particular— are worth what people believe they’re worth, and have little inherent value. You may assume that your mint-condition Cabbage Patch (or chupacabra toy) collection is worth a fortune, but you may be in for a shock when you try to sell it.
At its heart, the film raises interesting questions of authenticity and legitimacy. What does it mean to be a “real” Leonardo da Vinci anyway? There’s art (strongly) believed to be painted by him, of course, such as the Mona Lisa. But there’s also art done by his students under his direct supervision. Then there’s art produced in his style, intended not as fraud but instead as tribute and for practice. In many cases of old works, including Salvator Mundi, the painting has been professionally restored, adding a complicating (but unavoidable) element of artistic authorship.
For a more low-brow example, take your favorite band from the 1970s or 1980s that’s still touring today. It’s likely had multiple line up changes, and may not even have a single remaining original member of the band. Is it still really Lynyrd Skynyrd or Chicago or the Beach Boys? Yes? No? Maybe? Does it really matter? (Rock fans should check out the documentaries Quiet Riot: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back and the Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey for a look at the perils of replacing members.)
The same can be said for art: if it brings you pleasure, does it really matter if it’s an original or not? What if you paid a fortune for it? Does it matter if a shiny stone is a $10 cubic zirconia or a $100,000 diamond, if they look identical to the naked eye?
To extend the analogy even further, we can look at the placebo effect in medicine. There are some conditions under which placebos can be as effective as an active ingredient. But that’s not the whole story, because it’s a very limited list. For some minor and temporary ailments, such as minor pain relief and insomnia, a placebo can be effective. But the placebo effect can’t set a broken leg or reduce blood sugar levels. In other words, it’s true that we view and understand much of the world through our own prisms and filters, but it’s an overstatement to suggest that our perceptions create or change reality, or that the gap between perception and reality is irrelevant. Believing you took an Advil instead of a TicTac may make your headache fade, but believing you’re cured of cancer won’t reduce a tumor; believing you’re rich won’t add zeros to your account balance; and believing you’re looking at an original Leonardo doesn’t mean you are.
There’s also the argument that even if it’s fake, the controversy surrounding it elevates its importance, sort of like Kim Kardashian being famous for being famous. Even if at some point somehow conclusively proven to not be painted by Leonardo, it’s still the painting that was once thought to be the titular Lost Leonardo, and that by itself makes it an object of interest, for the same reason that the alleged diaries of Adolf Hitler or Howard Hughes are still of historical interest despite being definitively debunked.
As the film goes on the painting itself becomes secondary to an investigation into the opaque world of art auctions, where much is smoke and mirrors. Buyers of art have the right to remain anonymous, and often choose to do so. But at the price that Salvator Mundi fetched ($450 million), the list of potential buyers becomes pretty short. When the stakes are that high, international police agencies become interested because of potential tax implications (for more check out the documentary The Panama Papers, currently on Netflix), and because rare art is sometimes used as collateral to secure loans at international banks (who knew?). With a process as intentionally murky as art auctions, the hallowed halls of Sotheby’s is rife with shady shenanigans. Who, then, is the authority? Can we even know with any certainty what the truth is? Does it even really matter to anyone but the buyer and art historians who painted Salvator Mundi?
The Lost Leonardo is one of several recent documentaries dealing with high-end fakery and forgery, along the lines of Art and Craft, Sour Grapes and Made You Look. Like the documentary Misha and the Wolves, which I recently reviewed, the film gets into the on-the-ground detective work, not only investigating the provenance of the painting but also how it changed hands.
Even the current (apparent) owner has not confirmed its purchase, and as of this writing the location of the world’s most expensive disputed painting is not publicly known. The Lost Leonardo is top-notch documentary filmmaking that offers a revealing glimpse into both the rarified art world and the human condition.
More than 50 artists will have their work displayed in the Old Church October 2 through 10. The Old Church Fine Arts Show, now in its 33 year, is a collaboration between the Corrales Historical Society and the Corrales Society of Artists. The juried exhibit is free and open to the public with COVID-19 precautions maintained. No admission is charged and parking is free. The show will be online starting October 11, continuing until October 31 at http://www.corralesoldchurch show.com.
All art is for sale; a portion of proceeds will support ongoing efforts to preserve the Old Church.
In coming weeks, the Village Council is expected to amend its ordinance regulating the growing of marijuana —and to urge the N.M. Legislature to amend State law as well. Intense discussion on the Village’s ordinance came at the September 14 council meeting, and more is expected at the September 28 session. Councilors are responding to constituents’ concerns that the local ordinances leaves homeowners too vulnerable to factory-scale cannabis cultivation in areas designated for residential.
A weakness in Corrales’ land use regulations is that those residential areas are identified in law as agricultural-residential, and marijuana crops would qualify as agriculture. A second problem is that Corrales has no alternative land use zoning category, such as one for light industry, to which any proposal for intensive cannabis growing could be directed.
Village Attorney Randy Autio advised the mayor and council at their September 14 meeting that, as Corrales’ law and land use plan exist now, any attempt to block or obstruct large-scale marijuana growing here would almost surely face a lawsuit.
Mayor Roake, a lawyer, concurred. “We will be sued and we will lose.”
But some councilors said the Village shouldn’t be deterred by such a threat, arguing that it is more important to protect residents here than to be intimidated by possible legal action.
Councilors indicated they are likely to address residents’ concerns about negative impacts from large-scale cannabis growing and processing by requiring that such operations have much greater set-backs from residences.
Although some councilors wanted to impose a moratorium on marijuana-growing permit applications, Autio advised the Village legally cannot do that.
On the other hand, the attorney pushed back on the notion that Corrales is particularly at risk for being overrun by cannabis businesses. “We have a couple of things in our favor,” he said.
Land in Corrales is expensive, and therefore not optimal for any agricultural venture. Furthermore, we don’t have a municipal water system and we don’t have many large commercial buildings. “We are not going to be the popular choice for growing marijuana,” Autio said. “Corrales is not a likely place for marijuana growers to target.”
But they already have, some would argue, pointing to the greenhouse complex operated by Spencer Komadina in the Corrales del Norte neighborhood at the north end of the valley.
At least four villagers have weighed in on the need for tighter restrictions on cannabis operations based on their experience with the Komadina operation.
They took issue, as did residents in other parts of the Village, that marijuana growing should be treated no differently than any other crop.
In his remarks to the council, former Village Councilor Fred Hashimoto said comparing marijuana-growing to just the same as any other crop is ridiculous —and if State statutes insist on that, the statute is ridiculous as well.
“To consider cannabis as a regular crop plant is ludicrous. It’s much different than other crop plants,” he said , because “a pound of it in New Mexico sells for up to $4,500. Second, it’s frequently grown intensively in enclosed structures, which have 24-7 operations requiring huge amounts of water and electricity and high security measures such as fences, wires, lights and window bars;
“Third, in New Mexico, the regulation of cannabis businesses covers pages and pages of rules, regulations, certifications and licensures, and fourth, New Mexico limits me to growing only six plants in my backyard; it doesn’t limit me to only six chile plants or six stalks of corn.”
And finally, Hashimoto reminded, “the Village has recognized cannabis-specific issues.” The Village ordinance states “‘Whereas, the Village finds that high-yield crop raising, often referred to as ‘intensive agriculture,’ is common practice with cannabis production and has potential adverse impacts, such as increased discharge of pollutants and light or odoriferous nuisances, on the Village if not properly regulated.…’”
“Yes, the Village has already put some special restrictions on intensive grow structures such as increased setbacks —which are most insufficient for cannabis— and HVAC [ventilation] adaptations and noise restrictions specifically for cannabis grow structures.
“Unfortunately, the Village’s current regulations are inadequate and do almost zero to protect residential neighborhoods from the invasiveness of intensive cannabis growing, which was alluded to in its own ‘whereas.’
“Municipalities and counties in many states have setbacks up to 1,000 feet for cannabis grow structures from residential property lines. Corrales says, ‘25 feet.’”
Hashimoto argued that establishing more restrictive setbacks for cannabis operations in residential neighborhoods can survive any legal challenge. “Such setback restrictions are not prohibiting use; they allow, but set limits.
“Attorneys might say, the Village can get sued if it steps out too far. Really, the Village can get sued if it does or it doesn’t. Other municipalities and counties are protective of their residential neighborhoods. Corrales isn’t.”
The former council member contended that, unlike some other municipalities that might want to control cannabis operations, Corrales could withstand a lawsuit asserting it had acted capriciously in enacting tighter restrictions.
“Case law doesn’t exist concerning growing recreational cannabis in New Mexico because that hasn’t even begun. Corrales would seem to be in a good position to defend a more protective stance for residential neighborhoods because of its pre-existing Ordinance 18-002, which banned cannabis cultivation, etc. in its residential A-1 and A-2 zones. Corrales would be acting most consistently with its well-documented cannabis stance and not capriciously.”
Among other concerns voiced, Pam Garfield said such marijuana farms could take up water needed for food crops here. “This year, irrigation water is already severely limited, so how will marijuana production affect water availability for food crops?”
As discussion drew to a close at the September 14 meeting, Councillor Stuart Murray warned that the Village should prepare to be sued no matter how it decides to proceed.
Councillor Zach Burkett said the cannabis issue has generated much more intense citizen involvement than any other since he has served on the council. In the face of potential lawsuits, he said, “I would err on the side of our duty to our constituents,” rather than to cannabis growers’ prerogatives.
Marijuana is toxic for your dog, and can cause uncomfortable illness requiring the attention of a veterinarian. At its worse, a dog munching an unsmoked, discarded joint may experience seizures. In one reported case, a dog tossed with tremors for over 12 hours. Though rarely fatal, munching marijuana can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, wobbly movements, disorientation, whining, unusual eye movements, incontinence and slowed breathing in dogs. For more, see https://dogtime.com/
PetMD reported that a veterinary study in Colorado revealed “incidences of marijuana intoxication in dogs increased dramatically following the drug’s legalization” for personal use in 2012. The website added, “from the plant to oils and edibles, there are plenty of opportunities for dogs to get their paws on some weed.”
Rachel Barrack, founder of Animal Acupuncture in New York, writes that “Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains than people, Therefore, the effects of marijuana are more severe and potentially more toxic.” So cannabis products should be stowed away carefully, especially those dipped in dark chocolate.
With the 2021 Corrales Harvest Festival cancelled due to safety concerns during the pandemic, a few related activities and side events are continuing. The Pet Mayor election, for example, is still under way. The winner will be announced on Sunday, September 26, which would have been the final day of the festival. Candidates include five dogs, a peacock, a Canada goose and a cat. Voting continues online, at the Corrales Growers’ Market and at stores up and down Corrales Road.
But the usual Pet Parade associated with the festival will not be held this year. Another parade had been planned by Mayor Jo Anne Roake to build community interest in the 50th anniversary of Corrales’ incorporation as a municipality. That was to have culminated in the opening of the time capsule outside the Village Office. “The Village hasn’t given up on the parade, but that’s not happening for awhile,” the mayor explained.
Another event long associated with the festival, the annual race along Corrales’ ditch banks (most recently known as the Corrida de Corrales) was held as planned although it had been decided to precede the festival by a week. A stronger than usual participation in the Corrales Ditch Run was indicated by sign-ups as of September 18. A highlight of the annual festival has been the Growers’ Market on its final day. That will go on as usual on Sunday, September 26, regardless of the festival’s cancellation.
And the Corrales Historical Society has shifted gears on what had traditionally been its contribution to the Harvest Festival: special exhibits and activities at the Old Church. All that was cancelled… except for fundraising homemade pies, a raffle for a Celtic knot quilt and sale of notecards and other gifts in front of the Old Church Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The annual Halloween trick-or-treat event in the front field of the Corrales Recreation Center may still happen despite ongoing concerns for the pandemic. Parks and Recreation director Lynn Siverts said September 17 that no decision had been made regarding the Trick or Trunk or Trailer event that in past years has drawn hundreds of costumed participants, decorated haunted vehicles and truck beds and tethered hot air balloons.
“I’ve been getting a bunch of calls, but we are waiting to see how Labor Day weekend did before we start offering programs in which we get a bunch of people together,” Siverts told Corrales Comment. “Tanya Lattin and I talk every day about all our programs and keep thinking of ways to make them safe.
“We would like to offer the Halloween event to the community, but we need to make sure it is going to be safe.”
A hearing officer for the N.M. Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against State Representative Daymon Ely filed by N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas who alleged the Corrales lawyer inappropriately pressured him regarding distribution of payments in the settlement of a lawsuit. The AG submitted a complaint to the Ethics Commission saying that Ely “made threats of official action for his apparent displeasure with our handling” of the case involving Vivint Solar Inc.
Balderas went on to assert that Ely “violated the Governmental Conduct Act by asking State Auditor to investigate the Attorney General’s handing of the Vivint case” and that “Ely’s conduct has been so misinformed in law, and so outlandish, that it becomes highly concerning to me… that not only is [he] willfully attempting to interfere with a law enforcement prosecution, but that he is doing so because he directly benefits as a plaintiff’s lawyer from the information and handling of the case he so outlandishly criticizes.”
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.14, September 11, 2021 “State Rep. Daymon Ely Faults Atty. Gen. Balderas for Not Reimbursing Victims of Solar Company.”) But the Ethics Commission hearing officer, Alan Torgerson, threw out Balderas’ complaint, dismissing it with prejudice so that it cannot be re-filed. Torgerson ruled that the allegation against Ely should be dismissed because it is a frivolous and potentially destructive effort to weaponize the Ethics Commission process against a legislator for making legitimate inquiries.”
The hearing officer wrote that the AG’s complaint simply “strings together a series of unsupported personal attacks.” Torgerson sided with Ely by noting that “even if his interests as an attorney were relevant, his specialty is attorney malpractice, and he has no intent to become involved in consumer rights litigation.”
A draft ordinance regulating opaque walls and fences along the Corrales Road Scenic Byway is expected to be introduced at the September 28 Village Council meeting. The proposed law likely will mirror that enacted by the Village of Los Ranchos to protect scenic quality along Rio Grande Boulevard. At the September 14 council meeting, Councillor Zach Burkett asked that the topic be on the agenda for the next meeting. Mayor Jo Anne Roake agreed.
In an email September 16, Burkett said he anticipates Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout will have a draft ordinance. “I think Ms Stout has a draft in the works that will be our starting point of discussion.” Other council members have spoken in favor of such regulations aimed at maintaining scenic quality along Corrales Road. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.4 April 10, 2021 “No Moratorium on New Walls Along Corrales Road.”) The current push to protect scenic views began shortly after erection of tall cinder block walls fronting Corrales Road at the south end of the valley last year. Burkett said he regretted that such walls had been permitted and asked that the council consider what might be done to prevent the same from happening all along the road.
A former chairman of the P&Z commission, architect Terry Brown, had tried to persuade the Village Council to pass such an ordinance 10 years ago, but councillors balked and the initiative died. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block was that the 2011 draft ordinance seemed to apply to other roadways throughout Corrales and at intersections where walls would block visibility. The council sent the draft back to P&Z for more work, but a revision was never submitted. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2, March 6, 2021 “Council Revives Interest in Corrales Road Scenic Quality.”)
The Village of Los Ranchos regulations on walls along Rio Grande Boulevard were discussed at two previous council meetings. Those regulations were explained as follows by P&Z Administrator Stout. “Los Ranchos uses the idea of low and open walls/fences. They restrict height of all fences to six feet. Solid walls within the front setback can only be four feet with an option to add additional open fencing on top of that to a maximum of six feet total. No solid wall or fence shall be located within the clear sight triangle of a driveway and a public or private right-of-way.”
At the March 23, 2021 council meeting, all members of the governing body supported the goal of protecting scenic quality along Corrales Road, possibly with a new ordinance modeled after that used for Rio Grande Boulevard. Councilor Kevin Lucero made the point that any decisions on this issue will have implications for the quality of life in Corrales for decades. “The decisions we make in the coming months will determine what Corrales looks like over the next ten, 20, 25 years. What we want Corrales to look like for future generations.”
Burkett tried to head off the controversy that scuttled the 2011 draft law by saying he did not expect any regulation that would apply to roads except Corrales Road and possibly the historic zone near the Old Church and San Ysidro Museum. To try to include other neighborhoods would be opening a can of worms, he cautioned. Last spring, Stout was asked to evaluate the Los Ranchos ordinance to protect scenery along Rio Grande Boulevard and whether it achieves a balance for landowners’ privacy.
“What the Los Ranchos ordinance does is that it allows a modicum of privacy since you’ve got your walls to a certain extent but with an open pattern at the top. And they also have setbacks that we can look at for a front fence. That would be another option.
“It allows people to keep their animals in and keep other animals out, as the case may be. As you drive down Rio Grande Boulevard, it is a delightful experience. You can see the farmland, the large lots, the architecture. Corrales Road is a scenic byway, so looking at an ordinance would certainly be appropriate to balance the rights of the property owner with the overall feel that we want to keep here in Corrales.”
Former Corrales Planing and Zoning Commission Chairman Terry Brown has made that a high priority since at least 2010.
In a power point presentation to the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission on April 12, 2011, Brown demonstrated what has been lost by view-blocking walls along Corrales Road and what has been preserved by see-through fences and low walls.
But for other Corraleños, the idea that Village officials might tell them what kind of fence is permissible reeks of governmental over-reach and offends libertarian values.
At the December 8, 2020 Village Council meeting, Councillor Burkett said he would like to see incentives by Village government to encourage other styles of walls or fences that do not inhibit views.
He said he wanted the council to address the issue after seeing such tall, solid walls erected by builder Steve Nakamura on two properties at the south end of Corrales over the past year.
Similar long walls have gone up adjacent to Corrales Road at the north end in recent years, creating what Brown has referred to as a “canyon” effect that destroy the scenic quality for which Corrales has been known for many years. When Brown heard of Burkett’s interest, he said he looked forward to collaborating on a proposal to address the worsening situation. “When I was chair of the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission, the last issue I tried to get a reluctant council to approve was a recommendation for a requirement for a partially open wall ordinance along Corrales Road.
“The new CMU walls being built by Mr. Nakamura at the south end of Corrales are the antithesis of what Corrales needs,” Brown added.
“Look at the fencing along Rio Grande. This is what I envision for our village, and what is desperately needed to protect the views along the Corrales ‘scenic byway.’”
Views along Corrales Road of pastures, horses, farms, orchards, vineyards and old tractors are central to this community’s character and perhaps even its economic vitality.
A degree of national recognition for those attributes was gained in 1995 when Corrales Road was designated a “scenic and historic byway.” But a Village-appointed byways corridor management committee disbanded amid controversy more than a decade ago and was never fully reconstituted.
Brown, an architect, is concerned that the community’s treasured scenic quality is being incrementally lost due to an unfortunate landscaping feature: view-blocking solid walls or fences at the edge of the road.
“I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, and I was the chair for two years. As an architect, I felt strongly that we needed to protect this view, this viewshed from Corrales Road,” Brown explained.
“People come here to see Corrales… they don’t come here to look at walls and fences. They come here to see horses and donkeys and llamas and cows, and the views that stretch from the fields to the riparian habitat and all the way to the Sandias.
“They don’t want to see walls; they don’t want to see that ‘canyon effect.’”
Back in 2010-11, Brown and others pushed hard for the Village Council to adopt an ordinance or regulation that would prohibit owners of property abutting Corrales Road from erecting a solid fence or wall taller than three feet at the road frontage property line.
Draft Ordinance 11-007, amending the Village’s land use regulations regarding fences, was tabled at a February 2011 council meeting and never revived for vote.
No other proposals have been pursued, and tall cinder block walls and wooden fences continue to go up, blocking views.
Corrales is left vulnerable, Brown cautioned. “In some places we have a tall wall along one side of Corrales Road, but it’s left open on the other side. I guess that’s probably acceptable,” he volunteered. “But what if a developer or homeowner says ‘Hey, I need to have more opacity on my side of the road, too.’ And then, the next guy says the same thing, and pretty soon, a hundred years from now, Corrales Road will be just one long canyon.”
On the other side of the river, regulations for Rio Grande Boulevard have apparently closed off that undesired future. “I believe along Rio Grande Boulevard you can only have a limited expanse of opaque wall and the rest of it has to be open. The walls are low; for the most part, you can see over them or through them,” Brown pointed out.
“Since Corrales Road is a scenic byway, I think it is worthy of getting the same treatment.”
By Stephani Dingreville
Amid continued rise in covid cases, Corrales Fire Department vaccination efforts shine.
It is 6:29 on a sunny, busy Wednesday evening at the Corrales Recreation Center. Amid the happy din of the skate park and multiple youth soccer practices, a line of about 20 cars snakes through the parking lot, a grim, unwelcome reminder that the pandemic is not yet finished with Corrales.
At 6:30 on the dot, the first car at the curb is met by Corrales firefighter Megan Molinari. Molinari's job tonight is to gather the patient’s name and appointment information. She runs this information up to volunteer firefighter Bryah Lattin-Montaño, who sits behind a makeshift desk on the curb and inputs the name into the New Mexico Department of Health database.
Lattin-Montaño confirms the appointment, and checks for any past negative vaccine reaction or allergies. Then Fire Chief Anthony Martinez and Firefighter Eamonn Cole actually administer the vaccine, each taking a different car.
The patient is then instructed to park in the rec center parking lot and wait 15 minutes, to make sure there is no negative reaction to the vaccine.
The Corrales firefighters are incredibly efficient this evening, the entire process only takes about 30 minutes for Corraleña Lucy Hays. Hays has an immune deficiency. and has come in tonight for her booster shot. Although she received her first two shots outside of Corrales, she read about this clinic in the Comment and decided to try it for her booster. “The whole process has been very easy so far,” she reports just as she is about to pull up to the curb.
This is a scene that has played out many times in Corrales since February of this year, when the vaccine first became available. In fact, vaccine coordinator Battalion Commander Tanya Lattin estimates that she has personally given 7,000 vaccines at various Corrales clinics like this. As the night goes on, and the cars keep lining up, Lattin’s job is to run inside the center and mix vaccine vials as they are needed.
Tonight the Pfizer vaccine is on the menu, which is an extremely finicky vaccine to handle. It must be stored at the fire department in a special freezer that can keep the vaccine at a frosty -91 degrees Fahrenheit. Once thawed, it remains viable for only 30 days. Within that time it must be mixed with saline, and a complicated dance ensues in which the bottles must be inverted a certain amount of times in a certain way.
After the vaccine has been mixed with the saline, the shelf-life shrinks to a very brief six hours. The Corrales Fire Department is responsible for every vial, and if their numbers don’t match up with the number of appointments that have been made with the DOH, explanations are required. This makes vaccine preparation extremely difficult for Lattin, who takes the laborious job in stride.
Even though August 2021 has been one of the worst months for positive Corrales COVID cases, Lattin believes Corrales’ vaccination numbers are very good. She attributes the rise in cases to a combination of many factors, including the relaxation of the mask mandate, school reentry, and plain old pandemic fatigue. “I believe cases will go down again in September, then they might climb again in November as we saw last year” Lattin says.
Corrales has 423 positive COVID cases as of the Comment deadline September 20. Thirty-seven of those cases have been added in the first weeks of September. Compared to the tally inSeptember 2020, when Corrales had just one positive case, this number can seem overwhelming. But thanks to the continued efforts of the fire department and especially Battalion Commander Lattin, villagers can rest assured that Corrales is getting the protection it needs to face the months ahead.
The clinic at the Recreation Center is ongoing, every Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Various other clinics are available throughout the week at the Corrales Fire Department. Appointments can be made at cvvaccine.nmhealth.org or by calling the fire department at 898-7501.
Several Corrales artists’ work will be shown at this year’s N.M. Watercolor Society exhibition at the State Fairgrounds Thursday through Sunday, October 2-24. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building of ExpoNM. Enter and find parking through Gate 3, San Pedro and Copper NE. An awards ceremony comes Saturday, October 2, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One of the exhibitors, Lucy Jelinek Hays, explained the origin of her painting “Osprey.” “Living in the Corrales bosque has been a real blessing. And living through the pandemic in the bosque, a lesson in nature. We have studied more birds and animals, insects and plants than ever.” She had watched an osprey couple before it hatched eggs. “We were not invited to the birthing, but the tending of the nest, and the little heads peeking out made us laugh out loud. ‘Osprey’ illustrates the spirit of life along the Rio Grande.”
Tina Stallard’s painting “For Mel” was a watercolor pour. “I took this picture of a spent rose in my lovely friend’s patio, and the light was so striking to me. It was a very challenging pour, and things did not go the way I had planned. I pushed forward even though it was a fight for most of the painting.… There is a life lesson in this painting! I named it in honor of my cousin’s wife who passed away from brain cancer on the day I finished the painting.”
Another watercolorist, Dee Anne Link, said her painting, “Cactus Blooms 1,” is about “the fragile existence of flora in New Mexico, and how it survives in spite of no moisture. When the cactus blooms, it says so defiantly.”
Laura Speer’s subject was a hammer. “This well-used hammer rack caught my eye. I was visiting my friend Cliff Bessom, a long-time resident of Corrales, while he was so kindly creating a beautiful aspen arch for a family wedding. The light in his shop was soft, and created an opposite idea with the hard surface of the hammers. This watercolor painting reminds me of friends and family working together.”
Stallard and Hays will also have art for sale during the Old Church Fine Art Show October 2-10.
Approval of the controversial proposal for a short-term rental at 593 Reclining Acres by Jeannine Grayson was to have been the subject of an appeal hearing by the Village Council September 14, but it was postponed until the September 28 meeting. Reason: the person filing the appeal, Nelson Ackerman, who resides at 525 Reclining Acres, did not attend the scheduled hearing. In his letter appealing the Planning and Zoning Commission’s July 21 approval of the short-term rental, Ackerman said he took the step “on behalf of many of the neighbors on Reclining Acres Road as well as residents of the Village of Corrales.”
The commission had rejected Grayson’s request for a short-term rental permit on March 17. It was modified and re-submitted for P&Z’s consideration in May. But on the second try, it was neither rejected nor approved, but rather deferred to seek clarification from the N.M. Environment Department as to the adequacy of Grayson’s septic system to accommodate as many rental occupants as she desired. With the NMED okay, the commission on July 21 approved Grayson’s request to use two bedrooms to temporarily house up to four occupants. The appeal hearing is expected to resume at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 28 before the regular council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
The unsightly property at 58 Rincon Road, behind Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar, is to be cleaned up with significant improvement by the end of September or Village government will do it and collect reimbursement through a lien on the property. At the September 14 Village Council meeting, a resolution was adopted setting that in motion. The Planning and Zoning Department’s code enforcement official had been coaxing the person who is buying it, Zechariah Glover, to remedy the problems, to little avail. Glover had been cited for violating the Village’s regulations and was found guilty in municipal court.
At the council meeting held on Zoom, Glover rejected the assertion he had not begun to clean up the land, saying he had already hauled away eight of the 16 vehicles. “I have made progress,” he asserted. “Most of what’s left is behind a fence.” But Village officials said Glover has persistently delayed making the required improvements over many months. P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout told the mayor and council that the accumulated trash and other materials made the property disorderly “beyond belief.”
After hearing the discussion, the council ordered Glover to make substantial progress within 10 days. Otherwise, he was told, the Village will do it and recover its costs by seeking a lien on the property.
Proposed construction of a casita —or alternatively, an office and workshop— at 66 Bad Coyote Place was approved by the Village Council after a September 16 hearing at which Ken and Kathleen DeHoff expressed disagreement with decisions by the Planning and Zoning Office. Initially they had sought a building permit for a 600 square-foot structure labeled as a casita, but that was rejected by Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout. The DeHoffs re-submitted plans with modifications including re-labelling areas as an office and workshop, and that was rejected as well.
Another re-submittal came August 15. which the P&Z administrator approved. But in the DeHoffs’ appeal, they asked the Village Council to overturn Stout’s rejection of the original plan. In their appeal to the Village Council, they argued, “The first submission of July 19 referred to the area as a casita with bedroom and kitchen with no appliances. The second submission of July 21 referred to the same physical area as a shop with a workbench and an office. It is clear in these two rejections that the Village takes a capricious and ambiguously broad interpretation of your new law, such that no reasonable person will be able to guess at what you may consider valid.”
The appeal further asserted that “Laurie’s stated ‘inferred conclusion’ in both rejections is that my space referred to as a casita or shop is independent and thus a dwelling unit. However, the space is not independent and not complete. There is no evidence that it by itself meets the ordinance definition for dwelling unit. The language of the ordinance is clear and unambiguous, and attempts to ‘interpret’ are capricious as best.”
After lengthy discussion on the appeal and Village Attorney Randy Autio’s defense of actions taken by the P&Z administrator, the council went into close session to deliberate. At 7:15 p.m. they returned to an open session via Zoom and voted to uphold Stout’s rejections while finding the DeHoffs’ last submission acceptable. The backdrop for all of this has been P&Z’s approval of a casita at a new home construction site on West Ella Drive more than a year ago. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”) Stout referred to that earlier controversy with chagrin at the DeHoffs’ September 17 appeal hearing. “I wish I could take it back. In hindsight, I made a mistake.”
Volunteers are needed to clean up litter in the Corrales Bosque Preserve on Saturday, October 16. The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission will lead a trash removal effort at the Siphon Road entrance at the extreme north end of the preserve. Volunteers should bring gloves, but collection bags will be provided. That clean-up will start at 8:30 a.m., said chairperson Joan Hashimoto. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Adobe Theater —formerly The Corrales Adobe Theater when its productions were in the Old Church way back in 1957— will resume live performances Friday, October 15 in its renovated building across the river on North Fourth Street. Dinner With The Boys is billed as a “killer comedy” about the Mafia written by television actor Dan Lauria in 2015. Shows are each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through November 7. Those on Friday and Saturday begin at 7:30 p.m. while Sunday’s start at 2 p.m. A Thursday, November 4 production will be a “pay what you will” show.
The play is described this way. “Charlie and Dom, two wise guys from the old neighborhood, find themselves at odds with The Family, so they must serve up perfectly seasoned performances with their spicy puttanesca to escape danger. This odd couple awaits its fate as it prepares dinner for the special guests. “The only question remaining: will this dinner be their last meal?”
A long-time resident of Corrales and Albuquerque Public Schools retiree Raymond Archibeque died September 12. He was 94. He died at the Albuquerque Veterans Administration hospital; he served in the Navy during World War II. Archibeque loved to build things, so he helped his children with their projects. He is survived by his wife, Marie Archibeque, and five children: Yvonne, Lorraine, Annette, Raymond and Gary, as well as numerous grand-children.