By Jeff Radford
Projects in Corrales that have languished for years could finally unfold in the coming year, but that probably won’t include the plagued pathways along Corrales Road in the business district.
With a flush session of the state Legislature getting underway, Corrales may come away with funding to complete the new gym at the recreation center and start the proposed performing arts center just west of the post office.
Phase one of the new gym begins this month, between the existing inadequate gym and TopForm Arena.
The 60-day session of the Legislature begins Jan. 17.
Mayor Jim Fahey told Corrales Comment last month that the Village will seek funding for fire fighting infrastructure from the top of Angel Road to Loma Larga, a gravity-flow sewer line all along Loma Larga and construction of a performing arts center west of the post office where the old home of Harvey and Annette Jones stands now.
Legislators have been told they can expect to have $11.99 billion to spend, which is $3.59 billion more than projected for this current fiscal year.
But it has not been lack of money that stalled long-awaited projects like pathways in the commercial core and trails along upper Meadowlark Lane. The hang up for the former has been the state Department of Transportation’s intransigence to approve use of its Corrales Road right-of-way.
The department was also blamed for a decade of delay on the upper Meadowlark project involving trail design non-compliance with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. More recently the holdup has been getting all homeowners to agree to the Village’s removal of visual obstructions where driveways reach the road. The Village has agreed to pay all costs involved in modifying walls to accomplish that, but the property involved is privately held, so agreements are needed to make the changes. All but three of the 10 property owners have indicated they will allow the changes.
Without property owners’ approval, the upper Meadowlark trails project is dead, the mayor said.
Even so, Mayor Fahey hopes construction of the Meadowlark trails will begin this year. A westbound bicycle path is planned for the north side of the road, while a horse-riding path is to be constructed along the south side. Eastbound cyclists will be expected to use the regular traffic lane going downhill.
The year 2023 begins with a flurry of activity on other projects.
• A groundbreaking was held for the new gym at the Corrales Recreation Center on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
• This month, the old Jones residence will be demolished to make way for the proposed performing arts center, although funding to build it has yet to be acquired.
• This month or next, two public meetings will be held on expansion of the Corrales Road sewer line into the Priestly-Coroval neighborhoods, east of the rec center. Funding for the extension has been secured, but will not be available until September, Fahey said.
• A Village Council work-study session on the proposed performing arts center was held on Jan. 10 before the regular council meeting that evening.
• A public opinion survey on villagers’ desires for possible changes to the Corrales Comprehensive Plan will launch in mid-January. Hot topics are expected to include greater residential densities in some parts of Corrales to accommodate senior living facilities, tighter controls on casitas and alternative land uses in the Far Northwest Sector, east of the Rio Rancho Industrial Park. The online survey will use the Survey Monkey platform, but paper questionnaires will be available at the Village Office.
Mayor Fahey said the new Comprehensive Plan may be ready by the end of summer. He expects to name a committee of about 15 villagers to assemble the final plan.
• Major changes to the parking areas in the municipal office complex (across from Wells Fargo Bank) could also begin this month. That project includes installation of a new animal control facility between the Planning and Zoning Office and the old Community Center. The mayor said the project will be implemented during the first quarter of 2023.
Another big change in 2023 will be the relocation of the Corrales Growers’ Market to the recently purchased two acres along Corrales Road north of the post office. Fahey said the new site could be ready by the time the regular spring market season gets under way in late April.
And another: election day for Village officials may come in November, rather than in March 2024. Locally, consensus is building to shift election day earlier by four months to conform to other consolidated electoral cycles occurring around the state. If that happens here, which Fahey thinks is likely, villagers will vote for a mayor, three council members (seats now held by Bill Woldman, Zach Burkett and Stu Murray) and municipal judge on November 7.
A decision to make the switch would have to be made in June for the Sandoval County Clerk’s Office to prepare for it.
As spring rolls in, Corrales farmers will resume turning out irrigation water pumped directly from the river, same as last year, except the diesel pumps will be replaced by electrical service.
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s Eric Zamora told Corrales Comment Dec. 28 that availability will still depend entirely on water levels in the Rio Grande as it flows past Corrales.
The Corrales Siphon, which traditionally has delivered irrigation water from a canal on the east side of the river to Corrales, remains unusable due to a serious rupture in the old wooden pipe. Last year water was pumped directly from the river at the north end of Corrales. The two diesel pumps were removed late last year.
Zamora said repairing or replacing the 80-year old wooden stave culvert is expected to cost more than $8 million, a sum that MRGCD hopes to get from the 2023 state Legislature. If funded, replacement is not expected until 2024.
A plan to re-purpose the largely nonfunctional Corrales Interior Drain and its ditch banks east of Corrales Road may be developed this year. A request for proposals has been prepared for a planning firm to recommend how the 1.9-mile ditch might be used as green belt open space, recreational trails and other neighborhood amenities and municipal services such as a water line for the Fire Department’s fire fighting capabilities. As requested, the 2022 N.M. Legislature appropriated $150,000 “to plan, design and construct a multi-use area along the Corrales Interior Drain.”
Corrales roadway improvements in 2023 are expected to include re-paving Cabezon Road with adjacent bicycle, pedestrian and horse paths between Corrales Road and Loma Larga, according to Public Works Director Mike Chavez. The other biggie is re-paving Sagebrush Drive from Corrales Road to Loma Larga, while the rest of the road to its western terminus would be done in 2024.
Cadillo Lane, at the south end of the village, would be repaved in 2023. Depending on funding not yet known, other roadwork this year may include re-paving Coronado Road, Reclining Acres, Sereno Road and West Meadowlark Lane from Corrales Road to Loma Larga. Chavez said design work on those other projects is at least 50 percent complete, and funds for construction could be found from fiscal year 2023-24 state highway department Road Co-op funds, the state’s Municipal Arterial Program or the Village’s general obligation bonds.
Two projects on Corrales’ periphery could have huge impacts for villagers during 2023. Ongoing widening of State Highway 528 in Rio Rancho will probably divert traffic down into Corrales as motorists seek quicker access to Albuquerque. The increased traffic on Corrales Road already causes unacceptable wait times for villagers wishing to enter that stream from side streets or driveways.
Loma Larga has been considered Corrales’ alternate north-south road but that, too, may soon become clogged on a regular basis with the soon-to-open Dutch Bros Coffee drive-thru near Loma Larga’s intersection with Highway 528 (Alameda Boulevard). Residents in Skyview Acres have warned that Loma Larga lanes will be jammed with vehicles waiting to pull into the popular coffee vendor’s entrance. That Dutch Bros location, a drive-thru only, is expected to open in late January.