Trail suggested at CDBG meeting

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A library for rural communities in northern Socorro County and a walking route into the city of Socorro were suggested during the Socorro County Commission’s regular meeting Aug. 27.

The suggestions were public input for the county’s infrastructure capital improvement plan and future Community Development Block Grant projects.

Cynthia Connolly said she would like to see a safer route made available for walkers and bicyclists to get from the Chaparral Loop area to downtown Socorro. Connolly lives on Chaparral Loop and is also the coordinator for Healthy Kids Socorro, a program aimed at preventing diabetes through proper exercise, among other healthy habits.

Connolly said currently, area residents walk on a pipe to cross the irrigation ditch near El Sombrero restaurant. She noted walking on the pipe is dangerous, walking on the interstate overpass is dangerous, and walking down Frontage Road or Chaparral Drive is dangerous.

“If there were actually ways to get to the city, to access the city through walking or biking without a vehicle, that would be wonderful,” Connolly said.

Connolly suggested it might be a good CDBG project. She mentioned she has also broached the subject with the city of Socorro.

County Manager Delilah Walsh said the county doesn’t currently have CDBG funds to spend on a new project, and the county’s current CDBG funding is being used to build the Veguita Health Center. She explained the county is gathering public input for the next CDBG cycle.

District III Commissioner Phillip Anaya said bridging the irrigation ditch would be a project for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and he doubted MRGCD would be likely to initiate such a project. He said the railroad is another danger to pedestrians and bicyclists, and it would not be likely to get a railroad crossing in that area.

Connolly said many of her neighbors on Chaparral Loop would be interested in having safer access to the city from their homes by walking or biking. She said they would be happy to send letters or sign a petition. Walsh said letters from constituents regarding their wants and needs “are very much accepted” by the county for future planning purposes.

Next, Rio Abajo Community Library director Martha Carangelo and two others asked for the county’s support for the library, currently located in La Joya. Carangelo introduced Donna Hernandez.

Hernandez said the Rio Abajo Community Library has existed 12 years at a building leased from the La Joya Community Association, which has recently hinted it would like to have the use of its building back. The library needs to find a new location, but it doesn’t have the financial resources to move.

She said some may not think small farming communities need access to a public library, but they are 40 miles from the library in Belen and 50 miles from the one in Socorro. She said the area has seen more students graduate high school and attend college since the library has opened.

Hernandez asked the commission to at least write a letter of support for the library because other funding sources won’t even consider helping without such a letter.

Walsh said the library must be included on the county’s ICIP in order to be considered for any funding through the state Legislature. She said the Rio Abajo Community Library is the only Socorro County library, and the county contributes $3,100 per year to it. In addition, the library is eligible for state library bond money, for which the county serves as fiscal agent. She said community members also support the library through volunteer and fundraising efforts.

Hernandez said land is available in Las Nutrias that would be “perfect,” a central location for area communities.

Anaya said if the library could find a building, the county might be able to help them get started moving. He said it could take a few years to get funding through the county’s ICIP to build a new facility.

Miguel Trujillo, an architect who drew plans for a new library without charging for his services, told the commission he could also donate 1.5 acres to build a facility. He offered to donate his services to administer the project as well.