Valencia County commissioners approved a list of projects ranging from new parks to flood control in the county’s 2023-27 Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan last month, but revised it last week to add a hefty request to plan, design and construct a hospital/24 hour emergency health care facility in Valencia County.
The commissioners unanimously adding a $50 million request to it’s ICIP at the No. 1 spot at their Wednesday, Oct. 6, meeting, moving the rest of the projects down one slot on the list.
The entire list of projects will be sent to state legislators with the hopes of receiving funding.
Now at the No. 2 priority is upgrades to the camera systems at the 13th Judicial District Courthouse and other county-owned buildings. The total project cost is $390,000, of which $250,000 is still needed.
Following that is a $200,000 request for interoperable communication equipment for the fire department, and $2.8 million for an emergency communication system for the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.
Fifth on the list is funding for rehabilitation of the second floor of the county administration building, including furniture, fire sprinklers and replacement of the elevator. The project total is $1,850,000, of which the county has been awarded $350,000
Valencia County Manager Danny Monette said he is going to meet with staff from the district attorney’s office to see if the second floor remodel can meet their needs as well.
“If we can get them what they need, we can house the DA’s office there until we can get a new building,” Monette said. “If we can do that, we can save on the lease in Belen.”
Every county in the state is responsible for providing its district attorney with office space. Valencia County leases 11,760 square feet on the second floor of the Wells Fargo Bank building in Belen, which is owned by TNT Investments, for $1,380,602 a year. The lease is currently $15,050 a month with a 2 percent annual increase every May.
The long-term plan is to purchase state-owned property west of the existing district courthouse on the southwest corner of N.M. 314 and Morris Road, and build office space for the DA’s staff as well as the county administration.
Because the 2022 legislative session is only 30 days, Monette said it was unlikely legislators would take action on the sale of the property to the county.
Also on the list is a request for $3,750,000 for a new community/senior center in the community of Highland Meadows on the far western side of the county. That amount includes design, construction and furnishing of the center.
Seventh on the list is $2 million to plan, design, construct and equip a multi-use park in the county.
The next two requests would both help with flood mitigation — $1 million for development of a county wide flood protection plan and $250,000 to develop a social economic plan determining the impact of establishing a flood control agency with taxing authority.
The county also requested $1,780,000 for remediation at its old landfill, and $11,906,700 to bring the limited access road that will be built at the proposed second interstate exit for Los Lunas east from N.M. 47 to Manzano Expressway.
The commission also approved the five priority ICIP projects for the county’s Older Americans Program.
The first was $450,000 for renovations at the Del Rio Senior Center in Rio Communities, to include the expansion of the kitchen, the addition of a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, rest room renovations, flooring replacement and renovations to the main entrance.
Monette said the long-term goal for the Del Rio Center is to make it the primary meal preparation site for the program, rather than the senior center in Belen which belongs to the city. The manager said the county is negotiating with the city of Belen for the building.
“We are working out a contract that is best for everyone,” Monette said. “We want something in writing so we can put hard numbers to it.”
Public works director Lina Benavidez said it’s difficult for the county to make decisions about the building, since it belongs to the city.
“We take care of maintenance, programming, pretty much everything and the city assists with utilities,” Benavidez said. “If it’s our building, it gives us a cleaner way to do things. Going forward, if the county vacates the building, it would revert to the city of Belen.”
Other OAP funding requests include $100,000 for lighting and a security system at the Meadow Lake Senior Center, $150,000 for kitchen equipment at the El Cerro Community Center, $150,000 for kitchen equipment at a planned Highland Meadows Community/Senior Center — No. 5 on the county’s ICIP list — and $50,000 for an outdoor patio expansion at the Belen Senior Cente