BELEN — While not all members of the Belen governing body agreed on the priority of projects in the Hub City over the next several years, the council approved its Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan last week.
Councilors Danny Bernal Jr. and Ronnie Torres voted to approve the city’s 2023-27 ICIP during last Monday’s council meeting, Councilors Robert Noblin and Frank Ortega voted no. Mayor Jerah Cordova broke the tie by voting yes.
The state requires local governments to update its annual ICIP lists for all capital projects they would like to receive funding for from the New Mexico Legislature.
The following is the list that was approved:
- Westside flood prevention: Flooding has been an issue for years, and the city’s No. 1 project is for flood prevention on the city’s westside, specifically on West Aragon.
The city is hoping to receive funding in the amount of $1,753,000 to plan, design and construct street improvements including drainage, sidewalks and road improvements on Aragon Avenue, west of Main Street to the frontage road.
The scope of work would include replacing infrastructure such as paving and drainage.
- Roadway improvements: The city also wants funding for several roadway improvements at a cost of $3,880,000. The project would rehabilitate roadway water and sewer lines, paving, curb cutting and drainage on Didier Road from 10th Street to Main Street, First Street, Chavez to Ross, Third Street, Reinken to Bernard and Second Street to First Street on Baca to Bernard and Barboa Road.
- North Belen Interchange: The planning, designing and construction a new westward connection to the existing north interchange in Belen is estimated to cost $8,650,000. The project would include utilizing the existing design to reconfigure existing ramps and add high-mast lighting.
The city would take a multi-phase approach to the project, such as planning, design and construction. Each phase can be funded individually, however strong emphasis is put on completing all three levels.
- Flood control master plan update: With an outdated flood control master plan, the city is seeking $50,000 to update it.
- Citywide sidewalks/trails improvements: This includes a variety of projects throughout the city that would cost about $1,980,000. If funded, the city would focus on sidewalks, curb and trails along 10th Street, South Seventh Street and South Second Street.
- Wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation: The cost of rehabilitation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant is estimated at $13,340,000. The city is hoping to receive funding for design and construction improvements at the plant.
The plant is in need of a new ultraviolet light disinfection system, general rehabilitation of the 40-year facility, energy efficiency improvements and a new sludge dewartering facility. If funded, the project will include replacing the liftstation at Rosedale Circle.
- Wastewater pipeline rehabilitation: The city is seeking funding in the amount of $7,615,000 to rehabilitate 32,000 linear feet of pipe in its wastewater collection system within the city.
- Historic facilities rehabilitation: The city will be seeking $269,500 to renovate city-owned historic buildings, such as the Belen Harvey House Museum, old city hall and the old brick building. These structures are in need of roof and electrical improvements.
- SCADA & GIS asset inventory system: A total of $528,000 will be asked by the city to be allocated by the state Legislature to help improve and replace its control systems at its wells, and to allow a remote monitoring system.
- Community development projects: The city of Belen will be asking for a total of $1,688,290 from legislators to fund community development projects, which include installing park improvements such as a parking lot, lighting and fencing at Vivian Park.
The project will also include shade structures, parking lot paving, drainage, irrigation, landscaping, a skate park, rock lining of the arroyo, lighting and security fencing in the parking area at Eagle Park. The funds would also include improvements to the Veterans Memorial Park.
Before the council voted on the city’s ICIP, Bernal questioned the order of projects, saying during the discussion in a recent workshop, he felt too much funding was being asked for the parks, and wanted to focus on other projects.
Ortega told the council that the city had a deadline on some of these projects, saying if they didn’t spend the money, the state could take it back.
“All those projects, like the skate park, Veterans Memorial, fencing, they all have to be completed, and if we don’t use it, we might not get more in the future,” Ortega said.
Bernal made the motion The list Bernal proposed was ultimately accepted.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.