Los Lunas — To celebrate, the village of Los Lunas hosted a grand opening event for the new addition to the facility on Saturday, Oct 14. The $7.5 million project was self-funded by the village.

Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego said the last phase that had been built onto the recreation center occurred in the 1980s.

“I’ve seen it as a parent and a grandparent … I’ve noticed we needed more space for our children, our youth,” Griego said. “Recreation programs are very popular in Los Lunas. We’re not just serving Los Lunas; we’re serving all of Valencia County.”

Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photos
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Saturday for the new expansion of the Daniel Fernandez Recreation Center in Los Lunas.

The mayor said Los Lunas, as the economic hub of the county, has a responsibility to provide services to residents.

Griego also gave credit to the originators of the park, Los Lunas Jaycees and its then-president, Don Wood, who negotiated with the state of New Mexico for about two years to had over the 17 acre piece of land to the village for a park.

“They had a vision to create a space for our youth,” Griego said. “They’re not around anymore, but they got it started, and it’s part of the legacy of the park and the village of Los Lunas.”

Jason Duran, the village’s parks and recreation director, said it’s an exciting day for Los Lunas.

“About two years ago, I presented this to the mayor and council and when they said yes, my whole department was excited and it was probably the best day in my 19 years with the village.”

The expansion, which began construction last summer, includes a new gym, three new program rooms, an additional restroom, a party room, more office space for staff and a new front entry.

Los Lunas recreation supervisor Matthew Jaramillo said it’s a big change for everyone to adjust to, but excitement is in the air.

“We’ve added an additional couple of 1,000 square feet, so it’s new and challenging, but refreshing,” Jaramillo said. “There’s a new energy rolling through and we’re excited because we have tons of plans on the horizon.”

Jaramillo said the new space will allow them to double almost all programs offered to the public and the village also plan on creating more programs for teens and seniors.

“Teenagers are in a vulnerable spot, so the objective is to provide them a safe space to share their ideas, emotions and thoughts while promoting healthy habits,” said Jaramillo.

For example, the village would like to have free drop-in sports night for teens complete with prizes and opportunities to meet new friends. If sports is not really their thing though, Jaramillo said there will be plenty of other programs dedicated to teens such as arts and crafts, dances, video games and more.

“We’re building one of the rooms to be like a modular kind of hangout room with Playstations and switches. We’re also thinking of having open mic nights and teen hang out nights,” he said.

For seniors, Jaramillo said he is working on setting up times for senior pickleball and cornhole, which the new gym can now help accommodate.

“The senior groups are out there, it’s just a matter of working with them to get them a space and a time and to help them build tournament brackets, come up with prizes and that sort of thing,” he said.

Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photos
The second gym in the newly-expanded gymnasium in the center is available for more activities for the entire community.

A monthly subscription to the recreation center is $5 for teens and seniors, $10 dollars for an adult and $15 dollars for a family for up to six people.

With new space comes new opportunities, so Jaramillo encourages the community to get in touch if they have an idea for a class they want to lead.

“There’s going to be a lot of rentable program space, which is one thing we’ve never had,” said Jaramillo. “Our community is our biggest asset, so if they have an interesting trade they want to share, they can come teach a class and we’ll help out with supplies and do what we can to provide support.”

The larger new program room will accommodate more aerobics and dance classes as well as group session activities. Another addition included in the expansion is the first indoor party/meeting room on the premises. It will be utilized during tournaments and it can be rented for a variety of occasions and different activities.

The expansion will also allow for more open gym and practice time. Jaramillo said to stay tuned for a monthly schedule that will show class times, room rental availability and more.

“We’re in a new phase, an upward punch at that, and we’re excited to bring that to the community,” said Jaramillo.

Griego said he hopes to continue to expand the facility to include an indoor aquatic center, but it will take time to find the $50 million to build it.

“This is a place to have safe, organized activity and it’s important to have it,” the mayor said.

Duran thanked his staff, the architecture firm, Mozlen and Corbin and the entire village for making the expansion a reality.

“I’d like to thank the community because if it wasn’t for the kids, the adults and seniors, this probably wouldn’t be here,” Duran said. “I’ve seen people come in and utilize the facility and we didn’t have the space. I would like to thank the community — this is for you.”

What’s your Reaction?

Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.

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.