The new year launches with optimism and flush bank accounts, at least for public institutions and maybe yours.
The State treasury is brimming, apparently with lots more revenue to come in 2022, and Village government is all smiles with $4 million tucked away. “The Village is in excellent financial health,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake crowed as the new year dawned. “The Village does a great deal with the annual $6 million budget… and we’ve got about $4 million invested with the Local Government Investment Pool.”
Your own personal finances may not be so rosy, and inflation may erode yours along with those of the Village and the State. The 2022 session of the N.M. Legislature begins January 18; it will be dedicated almost exclusively to —money.
Pandemicwise, Corraleños continue to be well served by relentless efforts of Commander Tanya Lattin and the Corrales Fire Department; prospects are improving that the less lethal omicron strain of COVID-19 will dominate the virus world during 2022.
At the start of the year, 664 people in Corrales and other neighborhoods in the 87048 zip code area such as Skyview Acres, had been diagnosed with the disease. The number of Corrals-specific COVID-19 deaths has not been disclosed but are known to be at least seven.
The year 2022 will bring other changes, even in how collective decisions are made. Municipal elections in early March will name a mayor and three members of the Village Council. Those villagers willing to serve in one of those positions had to file notice of their candidacy on January 4.
Who voters choose on March 1 could well be determined by candidates’ position on growing marijuana in Corrales for the recreational use market which is sure to boom this year. Retailing of cannabis to the general public will begin by April 1.
The medical cannabis store at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road is expected to sell to recreational users once licensing and other protocols are in place. At least one other existing store farther south on Corrales Road likely will begin selling marijuana this year.
A periscope view of how the marijuana-growing business is likely to play out here may be offered later this month by recommendations for changes to Corrales’ land use ordinances. That advice to the mayor and council members will be submitted by a committee made up of citizens from each council district working with land use specialists from the Mid-Region Council of Governments tasked with suggesting revisions to Corrales’ Code of Ordinances Chapter 18.
Among other issues, those recommendations are expected to cover an analysis of Corrales’ bed-rock dictum of allowing just one home per acre (or one home per two acres on land at the south end of the village formerly within Bernalillo County). It’s the perennial “casitas” controversy.
Those recommendations likely will include proposed regulations on walls and fences along Corrales Road. Village Administrator Ron Curry said he expects the Village Council may make decisions on land use policies by mid-summer.
He does not expect a ground-up revision of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan during 2022 —unless villagers demand it as the community wrestles with the turbulent cannabis cultivation issue. Re-writing a comprehensive plan, he said, “can be a very painful experience, with neighbors pitted against neighbors. It’s just my opinion, but I think we were headed toward a ‘comprehensive plan light’ but that may change now with the cannabis issue and the fact that we don’t have any residential zoning per se.”
Village officials will move ahead with renovation of municipal offices, following conversion of the old “Corrales Valley Fire Station” into the relocated Planning and Zoning Office and Animal Control operations. Changes have already been made to the reception area of the Village Office; plans are afoot to re-do the restrooms and create a sole-purpose staff break room.
Curry thinks those may be done by the end of summer 2022, roughly when a thorough make-over of the Village Office parking areas is expected. Preliminary groundwork for the latter, done by Public Works crews, may begin by mid-2022.
Construction of a bike path along the south side of upper Meadowlark Lane, and a horse trail along the north side, from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho border is expected before mid-year. Curry thinks that can be completed by May 1.
He’s also looking forward to plans for the Village to take over ownership and management of the Corrales Interior Drain, east of Corrales Road. A committee appointed by the mayor is scheduled give its recommendations later this year. to facilitate that, Curry said he intends to call a meeting of that committee and other groups, such as the Equestrian Advisory Commission, the Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Tree Committee, the Bosque Advisory Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission in the weeks ahead. “We’re going to find some money for them to get started on the planning for that.”
A long, long, long-planned project, extension of sewer service to the Priestly-Coroval neighborhood east of the post office is not funded past a design and engineering phase. “I don’t have a time line for that,” Curry added.
Another protracted project, construction of a new gym for the Corrales Recreation Center, could come to fruition later this year. Curry said last month that “there’s a very good chance” the new gym could be under way during 2022. The total gym project is expected to cost around $3 million, and about $2 million is already available, he explained. “But we’re exploring ways we can have the whole project done at one time. Giving a start date for the gym would depend on when we can get the rest of the money.”
On Corrales’ eastern fringe, major earth-moving work is already mostly complete for the wetlands to be established where stormwater coming through the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel discharges to the Rio Grande. In the months ahead the multi-agency project will oversee planting of trees and other vegetation. Year one of that effort, led by The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, should be complete by the end of the year.
A pilot project for re-forestation in the Bosque Preserve was implemented by volunteers and the Corrales Fire Department last month. Donated cottonwood trees, three-leaf sumacs and golden currants were planted in a large area that burned in 2012. The Fire Department will continue filling water tanks positioned on the levee nearby from which plantings can be irrigated as they establish. If successful, the project will be replicated in other parts of the preserve.
On the opposite side of Corrales, talks are continuing about prospects for bringing in water from the City of Rio Rancho for the proposed, nearly forgotten, area designated for commercial development adjacent to the Rio Rancho Industrial Park. Infrastructure for such delivery of water to the Neighborhood Commercial and Office District (NCOD) is not likely to come this year.
But plans are continuing for a Corrales Fire Department water tank at the top of Angel Road to which a series of fire hydrants might be connected in future years. Curry hinted that the Village has been in discussions with the N.M. Department of Transportation regarding the future of Angel Road, but he declined to explain further.
Asked to look ahead for 2022, the Village Administrator said a theme will be putting available funding to work on long-planned projects and facilities. “The money that we have coming to us, via the feds for COVID relief and via capital outlays from the State, we’re going to put that money to use, on the ground.
“It has gone slower than I would have liked, just due to delays at the state and federal levels. But people expect us to use the federal money, the capital outlay money and now the bond money.”
Those uses include the trails along upper Meadowlark, improvements to the municipal parking lot and possibly extending the sewer lines east and west of Corrales Road. “Most people like having their own wells, and the way to protect those wells is to have a good sewer system.”
Curry said the proposal to purchase the Gonzales parcel frontage, next to Wells Fargo Bank, will come before the Village Council for a decision during 2022. But he expects one of the biggest snags to be the seller’s asking price and the appraisal. “People tend to have a higher value for their property than what the appraisals come in at. And we have to go by the appraisal and how it’s zoned.”
He said the Village does have money to buy the Gonzales parcel if the council decides to move ahead with the acquisition.