Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photo
Dignitaries broke ground Monday on a reseeding and irrigation project at Eagle Park in Belen. Pictured, from left, are Joshua Kerns, parks and recreation director; Councilor Frank Ortega, Robert Lucero, Councilor Danny Bernal Jr., Rep. Gail Armstrong, Sen. Greg Baca, Councilor Robert Noblin and Mayor Jerah Cordova.

BELEN — With financial help from state legislators, the city of Belen will soon begin a project that will allow local children, families and others enjoy the Hub City’s largest park.

Several state dignitaries, city officials and employees gathered together Monday morning for a ground-breaking ceremony at Eagle Park, kicking off the official start to the project, which includes irrigation restoration for soccer fields and the meadow, turf restoration and seeding of the soccer fields and meadow, irrigation restoration for the baseball fields and turf restoration and seeding of the baseball fields.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed by mid August, also calls for prairie dog removal, which has been an ongoing effort by the city for many years.

During Monday’s ceremony, Mayor Jerah Cordova thanked state legislators, including Sen. Greg Baca and Reps. Gail Armstrong, Alonzo Baldonado and Kelly Fajardo, for funding the project through capital outlay appropriations. The project to improve the park will cost $264,736.

“… this is a significant project for Belen,” Cordova said. “This is Belen’s premier park, and we’ve put in a lot of effort to keep it going. Today, we’re launching a reseeding project primarily, but what we know coming out of the legislative session is that this is the beginning of more money coming for this park and more improvements for this park.”

Armstrong said “it takes a village” to make projects like this become reality, and encouraged city officials to spend every cent that is appropriated to the city because it could be taken away.

“I beg you to spend it; anything we give you, please spend,” Armstrong said. “Anything you need, please ask; we will do our best to get it.”

Baca told the crowd he was excited the ground-breaking ceremony to take place, saying he’s been “very anxious” for the project. He maintained his commitment to the city, and will continue to support projects in his hometown.

“I’m happy for the community,” Baca said. “This is just a gem for our community. This is a place where people rally, where they can fellowship with each other, and where kids play and skate, and our matanza is here now.”

Councilors Frank Ortega, Robert Noblin and Danny Bernal Jr. all thanked the legislators for the funding to make the project a reality. They also showed their appreciation to city staff for their diligence in keeping up the park.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara 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.