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.