Decisions on how Village officials will use the former residence of Harvey and Annette Jones, west of the Corrales Post Office, have advanced little since the property on which it sits was acquired more than four years ago. Village Administrator Ron Curry said in a phone interview October 16 that a final assessment has yet to be made whether the structure can be re-purposed and renovated or should be razed. That is about where things stood in 2016 when the 2,54 acres of land and buildings were purchased.
“A chemical review will be done to see what is in that structure. We’re having Facility Build and another company go in there to look for asbestos and mold and other problems that would diminish the integrity of the structure,” Curry said. Facility Build is a firm owned by Corrales resident Brian Kilcup and which last year renovated the old Corrales Valley Fire Station which now houses the Planning and Zoning Department.
“What we don’t want to do is make a plan for using the building and go forward with those plans, then discover problems that will mean additional costs,” he added. “Depending on the evaluation, we could do a re-model or we could raze the structure and build on the foundation or expand the foundation.
“We had a meeting with folks who examined both of those possibilities. We’re trying to be prudent as we go forward.” In the meantime, interim uses are underway. The Corrales Police Department is now using space in the old Jones residence as a secondary office to encourage social distancing, Curry said. Community groups have met there in recent years, although those gatherings are curtailed due to the pandemic.
“My hope is that we can have a plan in the next six months that we can start to move on, start in getting financing.” Curry was asked whether Village officials have gained input from community groups regarding potential uses of the residence that is at least 50 years old. “Just last week when we had a meeting with some of the folks interested in it as a performance space,” he replied. “Once we know what we have to do as far as the structure goes, we’ll have to get public input because there is a lot out there and everybody has an opinion about how it could be used.
“But we don’t get in front of ourselves. Going forward, we’ll be looking at what that facility might do versus any expansion we might do at the gymnasium at the recreation center.” To pay for required renovations or rebuilding on the same site, Curry said the Village may be able to use some money from the bonds approved by voters in 2018.
A primary use for the Jones acreage was clear from the start: then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer wanted to relocate the Corrales Public Works Department (mainly its heavy equipment such as road graders and tanker trucks) away from the municipal complex at the corner of Corrales Road and East La Entrada. That largely has been accomplished.
When the Village closed on the transaction to acquire the property July 22, 2016, then-Councillor Gasteyer recommended that a task force be formed to take public input on how the property might best be used. The land lies between the Corrales Post Office and the recreation center’s TopForm Arena. The Village paid Jones $865,000 at closing. The property came with the residence of more than 5,000 square feet, two large barns or sheds, a well-landscaped yard with swimming pool and water rights.
During the council’s June 2016 discussion, Mayor Scott Kominiak said an estimated additional $328,000 would be needed for repairs, upgrades and remodeling for use as municipal facilities. Neither the purchase price nor the renovations were expected at that time to cause Village officials to dip into savings, or cash reserves. The funding was identified, largely from the Village’s municipal bonds tied to the a “hold harmless” gross receipts tax source the State (temporarily) allowed as compensation for excluding sales tax on food and pharmaceuticals.
Back in 2014, near the end of Councillor Phil Gasteyer’s second term as mayor, he persuaded the Village Council to earmark $500,000 from the sale of $3.3 million in municipal bonds for “real estate acquisition for Public Works Department relocation.” Other funding was directed to that purpose when Corrales got an unexpected windfall of $1.3 million from the State treasury through the Small Cities Assistance Fund. Village officials had explored opportunities to buy the last remnant of the Jones property for more than a decade.
Since the mid-1990s, Village officials have bought the Jones property piece by piece. They purchased the front parcel of the Jones pasture in 1995 for soccer fields and the second half of the pasture a few years later after an intense and prolonged fundraising effort that included appropriations from the State Legislature. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XIV No.1 February 25, 1995 “30 Days to Buy First Piece of Jones Pasture for Rec Center.”)
Then came the Village’s acquisition at the far western end of the Jones’ remaining property for what is now TopForm Arena. With the parcel in front of the Jones residence long-since sold to the U.S. Postal Service for what is now Corrales Post Office, that left the parcel holding the home and sheds to the west which served as a heavy equipment and construction yard for Harvey Jones’ construction business. Annette Jones had convinced the Village Council to zone part of that for professional office use before she died in 2004.