Another Perspective - Ribera school: The other side

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Although we weren’t asked, here is our story. In 1998 a group of citizens began the mission to resurrect the old Ribera school that was abandoned for many years. They worked with numerous governing entities to secure deeds, cure an encroachment with BLM (five years), become a nonprofit, begin seeking donations and having multiple fundraisers. In 2007, believing that as citizens of the state of New Mexico we were worthy, we requested capital outlay funds to serve these communities in northern New Mexico.

We signed the deed over to the Cultural Affairs Department in 2009 so they could act as our fiscal agent. The goal was to lease back or sell the building to Los Pueblos Community Council. Cultural Affairs believed it worthwhile to save this historic building and knowing that our nonprofit had $1.1 million in grants from HUD, they believed the project would be successful.

It was 2010 before Phase one began. The state procurement office oversaw the monies and our organization consulted on the plan.

Los Pueblos was not in charge of any aspect of how the $600,000 in state money was spent, but there was major environmental clean up performed including asbestos removal, lead paint removal, old oil tank removal, demolition of a structurally dangerous roof and walls, gutting the inside, steel beams and concrete work to stabilize the historic stone walls. There was no roof, but the stabilized building was ready for repair.

When this phase was complete, our organization began with design planning. Once permits were obtained, we diligently went through the bid process and selected a contractor. At this time Cultural Affairs said it did not want to continue with the project.

We began negotiations to buy the building and began Phase 2 construction.

Immediately after acquiring the building we began renovations. Our HUD grant was a Special Projects Economic Development grant, and we followed specific guidelines throughout the project.

We are now 90 percent complete and will soon apply for a certificate of occupancy.

Throughout these years because of inflation and timely obstacles, we have had to shave some cosmetics to our original plan. We are seeking grants and donations to complete this, but it won’t delay our opening.

Our mission is to operate a Community Cultural Center “Museo Norteno,” in hopes of providing Heritage and Cultural resources to our neighboring communities of Pecos, Las Vegas, Mora, Roy and surrounding villages.

Gloria Luz Gonzales is the director of Los Pueblos Community Council. She may be reached at gloriagonzales49@yahoo.com