Tech parking lot brought up at Aug. 20 meeting

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Some people came to the Socorro City Council meeting Aug. 20 to vent their concerns about New Mexico Tech’s new gravel parking lot along College Avenue.

One man who lives at the corner of Sunset and College said he was concerned the parking lot across the street from his house will diminish his family’s quality of life and his property values.

He mentioned a letter, dated July 31, he received from New Mexico Tech through Jim McLain’s office, which states Tech doesn’t plan to pave the lot now but may look at paving in three to five years. The letter also mentioned additional lighting, as well as trash and trash pickup. He said all those things are a concern, and whatever vehicle used to pick up the trash will probably mean more noise.

The man said poor planning on the part of administration at Tech shouldn’t mean the whole neighborhood has to suffer the negative consequences.

City Clerk Pat Salome said Tech has agreed not to make any permanent changes, such as paving the lot, without a public process. Salome said if the school can find an alternative solution to parking issues, maybe that space will have a different use in the future. He said it may not affect neighborhood property values forever.

A woman who lives in the same neighborhood said she is worried about the traffic on Sunset, which will likely increase. She also has concerns about diminished property values and air quality, which will be affected by dust from the unpaved parking lot.

The woman added Tech cut down some 20-year-old mulberry trees that had been in the empty lot, and asked if anyone could cut down trees planted by the city.

Councilor Donald Monette, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Ravi Bhasker’s absence, said he wasn’t aware the city planted any trees in that lot.

Salome said if the trees were in a city easement, Tech probably should have obtained the city’s permission to cut them down. But if the city had planted the trees on the property, they would go with the land and Tech could cut the trees.

The woman said she was concerned that the city didn’t know if Tech had the right to cut the trees, yet it happened anyway.

The woman said she didn’t understand why something that affects the quality of life of the neighborhood like the parking lot will was not discussed with the neighborhood. She said the way it was done was “sneaky and disrespectful.”