LOS LUNAS — The numbers are in and the top priority for village of Los Lunas residents who recently took a survey is a swimming pool/aquatic center.
The recent quality of life community assessment asked the nearly 1,000 people who participated what recreational/leisure/cultural programs they wanted that the village currently doesn’t offer.
By a wide margin of 52 percent, a swimming pool/water park/splash pads/aquatic center was the top desired project.
In January, Los Lunas Schools officials said it was permanently closing the pool at Los Lunas High School due to the high costs of maintenance and operating the facility.
Followed by a pool was youth/after-school programs at 11 percent, indoor recreation options with 7 percent, and multi-use/bike trails at 6 percent.
Jackie Fishman with Consensus Planning, the company hired to tabulate the survey results, presented highlights of the survey’s three areas — library and cultural services, parks and recreation, and transportation.
The 32-question survey asked residents about their priorities in and level of satisfaction with those three areas.
Of the 965 responses, the majority came from two-person households, 35-44 years old, with 50 percent having lived in Los Lunas for more than 15 years, while 77 percent lived in the village proper.
In each of the three interest areas, the survey asked the same question — were people willing to support an increase in either property taxes or gross receipts taxes to fund desired new facilities.
According to the survey, 62 percent said yes, and of those, 45 percent said they would support an increase to the village’s GRT, 25 percent to property taxes and 30 percent would support both.
One audience member at a recent workshop said he would be more likely to support a GRT increase rather than property taxes.
“We know people outside the village use the facilities, so that seems more equitable,” he said.
Many of those who responded viewed the library as a quiet place that was clean and well maintained, Fishman said, however 30 to 45 percent indicated they didn’t know if the library provided educational programs for adults.
Download PDF Los Lunas Quality of Life Community Assessment
When asked how often they visited the library, 45 percent said a few times while 30 percent said never. Fishman said 50 percent of respondents said they don’t go to the library because of a lack of information on the programs offered.
“That’s consistent with the response that people didn’t know about specific programming,” she said. “The take away is a need for more outreach and education about what is available.”
In the parks and recreation area, 14 percent said they spend more than eight hours a week participating in recreational activities. In the last two years, 63 percent said they participated in special events organized by the village, and almost 51 percent participated in its youth programming.
Fishman said the lowest participation rate was in the village’s senior programming, with 37 percent.
“It is significant that about half of the respondents skipped that question,” she said.
The main reasons for people not using parks and recreation facilities included facilities not being close to their home, busy or uninterested or the facilities they wanted weren’t available.
“There’s likely room for improvement and the significant areas are senior and adult programming, with 24 percent saying the are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied,” Fishman said. “Sixty-two percent said they didn’t know about senior programming.”
One woman said lack of participation by seniors might be partially a transportation issue.
“… if they don’t drive, or can’t drive, how do they get to senior activities,” she asked.
Library Director Cynthia Shetter said they needed to keep in mind there are two different groups of seniors — seniors that want to “get out and go and do stuff” and seniors who want to go to a center and play cards. We have seniors who are very active and those that are sedentary.”
Duran agreed, pointing out that the senior center in Los Lunas was now a multi-generational center.
“They don’t want to go to a senior center, don’t want to go to bingo,” he said. “That’s the generation now.”
In the area of transportation, 99 percent of respondents said they get around by using their personal vehicle, and 92 percent said there are certain areas and intersections they avoid due to congestion and safety concerns.
“That’s probably not too surprising,” Fishman said as the audience chuckled.
The top six intersections drivers avoid along Main Street were N.M. 314, Interstate 25, the Valencia Y, where Main Street meets N.M. 47; Don Pasqual, Emilio Lopez and Los Lentes Road.
Village Councilor Gino Romero said the survey solicited a lot of different surveys.
“We want to view this as a starting point, to find out what are the main priorities for citizens,” Romero said.
Other improvements community members asked for in the village included a venue for live music, expo and livestock center, a fishing pond and shade structures at existing parks.
One woman felt the village needs a west side recreation facility.
“You have only one gym and all these different teams,” she said.
Duran said the village was having a constant struggle in having to limit programming because of lack of space.
“We have a ton of kids and not a lot of space,” he said. “We have many, many dreams. We could do so much more if we had more.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.