Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Speaking for the Trees in Los Ranchos


Dead trees, a new open space gem and a growing can of worms were part of the July 12 Village of Los Ranchos Trustee meeting.

Too Late For The Trees?

Back in 2005, Village Trustees approved buying about 17 acres of lush open space along the north side of Paseo del Norte between Fourth Street and Rio Grande Boulevard. The land was purchased for about $2.7 million from Paul and Kandace Blanchard, New Mexico horse racetrack owners.

Today most of the trees at the Del Norte open space have died, according to Joe Craig, who back then was chairman of the village’s Open Space Committee.

“It is dead. Half of our open space is dead,” he said passionately during public comment.

He went on to say that the village is not watering adequately with one side getting water and other dying of thirst. He said the big cottonwood trees that range from 50 to 100 years old are dead and will have to be cut down. He said even Elm trees are dead, and that is hard to do.

“There is no wildlife, no birds and the geese cranes are gone,” he said just before his three minutes of public comment time were up. “We are going to have to do something and it is going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to fix it.”

Trustees had no comments but this reporter thinks they have some explaining, and watering, to do.

Green Curves Always

The east side of the S-Curve in Los Ranchos will soon be set as open space forever. Trustees approved purchasing 23 acres plus the 6,000 square foot statuesque former home of the famed balloonist Maxie and Pattie Anderson for about $7.9 million. They first approved $6.068 million in general obligation bonds approved by the voters to spend on open space uses. Then the purchase agreement with the Anderson family. The rest of the money will come from open space and other village funds. These three tracts will join up on south side to 25 acres that was purchased from the Anderson family about a decade ago. All of this join up on the east side to 128-acres of Los Poblanos Open Space. Long time Los Ranchos resident David Montoya summed it up when he called it “a jewel of the Valley.”

More Evidence

This important item did not come up until a little after 10pm. Then Mayor Don Lopez pulled a disappearing act by saying he had an appointment and quickly left the building. This left Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Pacheco in charge of the gavel.

Attorney David Campbell, represents Palindrome and its large mixed use use development project underway at Fourth and Osuna. Campbell had requested to have a list of documents put into the record as evidence in case of future pending trustee reviews, lawsuits and possible court appeals. There are currently a couple of lawsuits filed by the non-profit Friends of Los Ranchos against the Village for this project. In one of the lawsuits, Second Judicial District Judge Denise Barela Shepherd denied a Writ of Mandamus to stop the construction at this massive project.

Attorney Mel Eves, represents the non-profit Friends of Los Ranchos, opposed the documents being put into evidence. More transparency for all and entering more documents into the record was approved on a 2 to1 vote with Trustee George Radnovich abstaining due to a conflict of interest and Trustee Gilbert Benavides voting against more information being in the official record.


• Trustees approved a preliminary plat for a major subdivision with about 12 units located at Fourth and Willow. Trustee Sandra Pacheco recused herself due to a conflict of interest.

• They approved participating the state’s Transportation Department’s Local Government Road Fund Program. The village will cough up $116,667 and the state will pitch in $350,000 to do some road rehabilitation and improvements.

• And the industrious bunch approved a 2023-2024 budget of about $4.551,000 down about 7% from last year’s budget. The Village has a healthy ending cash balance as of June 30, 2023 of about $9,795,000

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