With the future of the city's downtown in the balance, City Manager Jim Palenick told the city council, during its Oct. 21 meeting, he is taking a 'fairly aggressive and optimistic' approach this year.
'As we grow, as we have more need, I think that our expectation and our specific need only becomes higher than in years past,' he
said during that meeting. 'In years past, we've done reasonably well but I think disproportionately so in relation to our size, our population and the amount of growth and development investment in our community.'
Sen. John Ryan, who attended the dinner, concurred.
'I agree that there is substantial need in Rio Rancho
for infrastructure and it can't come from just one place,' Ryan said.
With record state income this year from oil and gas and New Mexico's major projects - the Rail Runner and Spaceport - already funded, Palenick
is looking for a higher allocation from this year's 60-day legislative session.
Meeting in the newly opened Santa Ana Star Center
, the city was able to show all six of its legislators a variety of reasons Rio Rancho deserves their help.
The first thing Rio Rancho does, before it seeks state aid, is find an assortment of funding sources, including its own budget.From the Star Center
could point to Paseo del Volcan, Unser Boulevard, the future sites of Lionsgate and the University of New Mexico
, and also the arena.
is already planning State Legislature Night at the Star, when he
will invite all 112 legislators to a Scorpions game.Palenick
said the legislators responded to the requests, as evidenced by a 'spirited' question and answer session and the beginnings of a bi-partisan effort to help Rio Rancho
'There was discussion of how they could work together,' Palenick
The city is asking for nearly $39 million this year from the legislature, with two requests focusing on water.
North Central Economic Development Area water system
The city wants $20.5 million for the design and construction of a potable water system, including a well, pump and ancillary equipment, storage tank, and multiple large-diameter transmission mains.
The system will support the arena, City Hall, Lionsgate, the City Centre
, the UNM campus, the new high school, and the Paseo Gateway development area.Palenick
said the total investment would exceed $1 billion.The system will cost $50 million total, Palenick
said, and the city will likely have to fund most of the cost.
This is also Rio Rancho Public Schools' top priority, Palenick
said $13 million could allow the city to complete the widening north to Progress Boulevard depending on construction costs.
'It would have been No. 1 on our capital needs, but it's so big it's hard to just put there,' Palenick
The city has received money for transportation improvements, but it has not been enough.
'GRIP1 left us out completely, GRIP2
contemplates $3 million for us in the year 2011,' Palenick said. 'None of that is acceptable after $1.8 billion in expenditure for a community with as many needs as we have.'Palenick
pointed to NM 528, US 550, Paseo del Volcan, Southern and Northern boulevards, 30th and 40th streets, and Rainbow Boulevard as examples of roads in need of work.
'There are literally hundreds of millions of dollars of transportation needs in our community, and simply asking for a few million dollars a year in capital funding will never get it done,' he
said. 'There has to be a very major commitment to transportation funding on behalf of the state.
'We think it's critical to have those tax credits remain in place to have the film industry be successful for the long term,' Palenick
wants the state to approve a lengthy extension or eliminate the sunset date.
Originally, the city had five capital outlay requests and five legislative priorities, but one of the latter has been 'sort of dropped,' Palenick
The city was looking for reforms in the state's Construction Industries Division, asking for cross-certification of inspectors and privately contracted inspectors.Since then, CID has been 'more responsive' by entering discussions with Development Services Director Rob Anderson regarding ways it can help the city, Palenick said.
...Rio Rancho's newest entertainment venue will be located near Southern Blvd. and Unser Blvd. in a 45,000 square foot facility that will have approximately 2,400 stadium style seats and state-of-the-art sound technology. 'This announcement is another fulfillment of the City's stated economic development priorities and quality-of-life initiatives. 'We are eagerly anticipating the opening of this facility, which will be the first of its kind in Rio Rancho,' said City Manager Jim Palenick.
...Thomas and City Manager Jim Palenick reiterated that the amendment was intended only to find funding to complete the initial resolution, not to fund a new project or an expanded one.