BELEN—The city of Belen has a lot on its plate with a number of ongoing and upcoming projects, mostly dealing with infrastructure.  

The city council was given an update by city staff last month on the numerous projects they are currently working on.  

Steven Tomita, Belen’s development services director, told the council a lot of projects are coming together at one time, some above the anticipated cost.  

“The reason for a lot of that, is some of the projects had a hard time getting bidders, some bids came in over project cost …,” Tomita said. “Some agencies we’ve been working with had to come in and make some changes, and we’ve struggled getting our funding agreements submitted to us to move forward.” 

Tomita said some of the projects the city expected to be done last year are now expected to be completed this year.  


West Aragon Road 

This project, which will span from Main Street to Mesa Road, will include replacing water and sewer lines as well as repaving of the road. The contractor was selected, and last spring, the project came in over $1.4 million over budget.  

“We went back to the Water Trust Board, and acquired additional funding for the water,” Tomita said. “We reassessed the storm and sewer design, and went back out to bid this fall. We had only one bidder, TLC, and it came back at $1.5 million, which was still over budget.” 

Tomita said the city has once again reached out to the Water Trust Board for additional funding because the city is still short $500,000 for the project.  

Tomita explained the reason for the increased costs is because some of the funds being used for the project is coming from the federal government, which means extra documentation that has to follow federal procurement rules.  

Before the project begins, the city will hold public meetings at city hall for residents.  


Mae Reid Pond 

A holding pond that has been planned for more than 10 years to help with the flooding problem in Belen might finally become a reality, but in a different location than originally proposed. 

The Mae Reid Pond, which was initially designed to be on the west mesa, will now be placed on city-owned property on Christopher Road.  

Tomita said the city is working acquiring 1.9 acres of right-away to shift an arroyo and build a culvert under Christopher Road. 

He said an environmental report still has to be completed and a request for proposals has to be sent out for this project.   


Aragon pond 

Another pond on Aragon Road, west of Mesa Road, is still in the design stages.  

Tomita said the engineer who was working on the project has left the company, and others in the company, Molzen Corbin, will have to get up to speed.  

“We’re coordinating with the gas company and, of course, the conservancy district to discharge the storm drain down Aragon Road and into the Highline Canal,” Tomita said. “Because we’re discharging into the canal, we had to get an environmental permit.” 


Aragon paving 

The city has plans to pave Aragon Road west from Mesa Road to the frontage road.  

“The pond itself will desilt a lot of the storm water coming off the arroyo and areas around it and the water will be pretty clean; however, with the road being a dirt road, all that silt will be coming down the road and dumping into our storm drains,” Tomita explained. “We have the same problem with the Highline Canal overfilling.” 

Tomita said when the governor was here last year, he explained the problem with the road.  

The city is currently waiting on architecture firm Bohannan Houston to complete the plans for paving the road.  


Taxiway at the airport 

The taxiway pavement rehabilitation at the Belen Regional Airport will start this month, with TLC as the contractor. 


Eagle Park 

Tomita said the general improvements at Eagle Park the city had been planning to do have all come in over budget. Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Coon is looking over the list and is prioritizing the projects at the park.  

The trails and maintenance projects at the park failed to entice any bidders. The city will now go out to look for CES contracting, the only New Mexico-based purchasing contracting for government entities.  


Don Luis Trujillo Boulevard 

The intersection project near the northern Belen interchange is under design by Molzen Corbin, and the New Mexico Department of Transportation told the city they needed to change the design, Tomita said.  

The NMDOT also told the city they now have to complete a traffic study, traffic count, traffic report to integrate with the interchange design.  

“We will now not have sufficient funds to complete it, and we’re trying to coordinate that with the interchange work so it won’t cause the interchange design to have to be redone,” he said. “We’re trying to coordinate the whole effort.” 


North interchange reconstruction 

The city has been struggling to get the funding agreement for $1.5 million for the project, which is $500,000 more than expected.  

Tomita said the city is ready to start working with Molzen Corbin on the project, but are still applying for new construction funds.   

“We’ve decided to apply for the funds when we have 60 percent of the plans completed,” Tomita said. 


Drainage master plan 

Tomita said Molzen Corbin is working the city’s drainage master plan, and is working with the state’s engineer’s office on the project.  

“They’ll be providing us a report and an update … and this whole project will take two years to complete,” Tomita said.  


Great Blocks Grant 

Belen MainStreet Partnership and the city of Belen received a $1.69 million grant to complete phase two of the First Street and Becker Avenue improvement project.  

The project will including making First Street a one-way street going north to improve pedestrian walkways, improve access into the Harvey House, and improve drainage design on First Street. 


Well No. 9 

When trying to put in a new pump at Well No. 9, the city had difficulties and realized they did not have a  backup for the tank and well up there.  

Working with a USDA grant, the city has replaced the pump and well, but is still in need of a backup. The facility provides water to the area of Walmart and a new subdivision. 

Tomita said the city is filing for interim financing for engineering and design.  


Wastewater treatment plant 

The city of Belen has put the wastewater treatment plant project at the top of its priority list, and has already acquired $3 million for rehabilitation of the facility.  

The city has contracted with Bohannan Houston for the work, and will initially focus on the needed ultraviolet system and improvements to the blowers. 


Camino del Llano 

After years of flooding in the area of Camino del Llano, the city has to use the road as a surface channel.  

Bohannan Houston will create a master plan that will outline how the city can work with the conservancy district to help the Highline Canal by creating an overflow spot.  

“The canal backs up, topping randomly or breaching the canal …,” Tomita said. “They’ll have a spot they can overflow … on Camino del Llano. Now we have to turn Camino del Llano into a surface channel, and the water will come down Camino del Llano, flow across Main Street and into the bosque drain.” 


Third Street 

The city has received Local Government Road Funds to pave Third Street from Reinken Avenue to Bernard Avenue. Because the city has already self-funded a portion of the paving, the project would cost less than initially expected.  


Other projects 

Belen City Manager Roseann Peralta told the council there are also a number of project in the works or being planned with the help of capital outlay funds received or asked for through local legislators, including:  

  • Belen Harvey House Museum rehabilitation
  • Old City Hall renovations
  • Veterans Memorial, phases three and four
  • Gazebo and archway at Heart of Belen, stucco, paint and electrical upgrades
  • Maintenance vehicle and equipment
  • Public safety radios
  • Pumper truck
  • Bucket truck 
  • Police vehicles
  • Park improvements
  • Skate park improvements
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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.