Preserve Our Open Spaces For the Future

Saturday, March 10, 2007
by Joe D. Craig
— I read Bryan Kelley’s letter about how Paradise Hills has been lost in Wednesday’s Journal. It left me with a great deal of sadness.

I grew up in the North Valley and went to school with the kids from Paradise Hills. I remember their stories of the vast open spaces, the petroglyphs and hunting for tarantulas in the lava. How fun, I thought, but living in the North Valley, we had more than enough open space with our lizards, horned toads and room to roam. What a great environment to be a kid in, and I, too, moved back to my roots and the North Valley environment that I loved.

But before my eyes Albuquerque moved north with us— the Jefferson Corridor and the Cottonwood Mall. Paseo del Norte, Montaño and Alameda all became major traffic corridors.

And Paradise Hills got lost.

I used to ride my Schwinn 3-speed bike down Osuna Road and across Fourth Street to Taft Junior High School and meet my friends from Paradise Hills who had to ride a bus for over an hour to get there. I would not like to try riding a bike anywhere along the valley roads anymore.

I can remember riding my pony, Billy Boy, along the acequias to visit my girlfriend in the snow one winter, and then accessing the Rio Grande that summer and swimming him across it. We probably would just wade across now.

But now we have tremendous pressures of the development of Albuquerque pushing into the village of Los Ranchos. I am working with the Friends of the Village of Los Ranchos to save the remaining open space that is left there.

It is sad that Bryan and I couldn’t have met years ago and tried to save the space around Paradise Hills when that land was cheap and available. Joni Mitchell and the Counting Crows both warned us in their songs— “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

So now the village residents have an opportunity on March 13 to save some of the last open space in the valley.

There are opponents to the election who are saying it will cost a lot of money to preserve the last of our heritage. It is going to cost me $3 per month, a price I am happy to pay.

This is not about taxes, this is about our quality of life, and the choice our community has— to make a small investment now, or do nothing.

When I look to the future, I envision a village that treasures its heritage and has preserved its remaining open space, natural areas and wildlife habitat. Something that our children and their children to come can use and thank their grandparents for having the foresight to save such a wonderful resource.

Please help me and the Friends of the Village of Los Ranchos save these valley treasures. Don’t let us become what Paradise Hills has become. Please join me and vote yes for the Open Space Bond on March 13.

Joe D. Craig is chairman of The Friends of Los Ranchos Committee.

Village May Buy Open Land
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
By Carolyn Carlson
Journal Staff Writer

One of the largest pieces of open land in the village of Los Ranchos could stay open space if officials approve a purchase agreement with the owner Wednesday.

Trustees will be asked to approve an agreement with Paul and Kandace Blanchard to buy about 17 acres along the north side of Paseo del Norte between Fourth Street and Rio Grande Boulevard.

“One of the priorities of this administration is to acquire as much open space as possible,” Mayor Larry Abraham said Monday.

Blanchard, a New Mexico racetrack owner who lives in the North Valley, agreed to enter into the agreement to allow the village time to acquire money to buy the site, according to Abraham.

Abraham said prior appraisals of the property showed it was worth about $3.2 million. On Monday, he estimated the purchase price will be close to $2.7 or $2.8 million.

Joe Craig, chairman of the village’s Open Space Committee, has said acquiring the property would be a step in the right direction for the village. He said the land would bring back a community feel to the North Valley, which he said it has lost over the last couple of decades to development.

“This agreement will firm up the price until we can get the money. In the meantime, we can use it, clean it up and even possibly farm it,” Abraham said.
During this year’s legislative session the village requested money to buy the Blanchard property and another 50-acre piece, but the request was not funded.

Abraham said he and Village Administrator Juan Vigil recently spoke with Gov. Bill Richardson, representatives from the Department of Finance and Administration, and the village’s legislators about the acquisition.
“So far we have received encouragement from all of the parties,” he said.

Abraham said the village would try to combine the Blanchard property with another 20 acres of open space to the east.

From a regional perspective, acquisition of the Blanchard property creates an open space anchor on the north side of the Rio Grande State Park, he said.

“These pieces (of open space) could be connected by foot, bike and horse trails to create an urban network of what the valley used to be like,” Craig said.

Abraham said another property the village would like to acquire is the largest piece of open land in the village. This is about 50 acres where Anderson Vineyards are located. It could be bought for between $3 million and $5 million, he said.

Abraham said they are still working on ideas for this acquisition.
The land is owned by the late Maxie Anderson family. Anderson, an Albuquerque businessman and balloonist, died in 1983 in a ballooning accident in Germany.

Abraham said terms of the agreement are still being worked out and should be ready for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. meeting.