Los Ranchos Hopes To Acquire Open Space

Thursday, March 10, 2005
by Carolyn Carlson, Journal Staff Writer

— For more than eight years, Los Ranchos resident Joe Craig has wanted the village to buy the land along the north side of Paseo del Norte and keep it as pristine open space.

This could be the year it happens.

Los Ranchos is asking for a capital outlay appropriation of $3 million from the state Legislature to help purchase two pieces of land totaling close to 70 acres for open space.

Craig, chairman of the village’s Open Space Committee, said the acquisition of the properties 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 with development in the area.

“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.
The property is overrun with weeds and is in need of attention, Craig said.

“This would be an absolutely gorgeous piece of open space,” Craig said about the approximately 17 acres of land on the north side of Paseo del Norte between Fourth Street and Rio Grande Boulevard. “Right now it is an eyesore.”

The Paseo property is owned by New Mexico racetrack owner Paul Blanchard, who lives in the North Valley.

The capital outlay request is being carried by Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque.
The request, SCO-1502, is part of the state Senate’s comprehensive capital outlay request bill that will be voted on toward the end of the session, which ends on March 19. If passed by the House and Senate, the bill will eventually end up on Gov. Bill Richardson’s desk for final approval.

Blanchard has been criticized for his close friendship with Richardson. And some people close to the project hope politics do not play a part in the decision to fund the Blanchard acquisition.
Another glitch in the funding of the open space acquisition is that Los Ranchos does not have a village property tax in place, though residents are taxed by Bernalillo County on their property. The village collects gross receipts taxes to fund village operations.
The other piece of land the village would like to acquire as open space is about 50 acres of the Anderson Vineyards along Rio Grande Boulevard north of MontaƱo.

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.
“The amount of vacant land is diminishing, so the opportunities to retain open space in the village are limited to a few parcels,” Juan Vigil, Los Ranchos village administrator, said Wednesday. “The beauty of the Paseo property is it is contiguous to two other pieces of open space property. From a regional perspective, it creates an open space anchor on the north side of the Rio Grande State Park.”

Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham said Tuesday he and Vigil have talked to Blanchard about buying the property. Abraham said Blanchard has agreed to sell it if the village can get the money. Abraham estimated the price of the property to be close to $2.6 million.

Abraham said the other piece of property is about 50 acres of land where the Anderson Vineyards are located. This property, Abraham said, could be bought for between $3 million and $5 million.

Both pieces, if they are not purchased by the village, could be developed into residential lots.

Vigil said Mike Anderson, one of the owners of the vineyard property, likes the idea of his family’s land being bought by the village for open space.

Source: http://craigandcompany.net/news.htm