County to seek funds for Tecolote

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By David Giuliani

The San Miguel County Commission decided last week to seek more federal money so that it can complete the final phase to improve roads and drainage in Tecolote.

The county tried to seek more funds for that project last year, but the federal government denied that request because the county hadn’t closed out the first phase of the improvements.

In the first phase, the county spent much of the more than $300,000 on drainage. Officials at the time said that they did so because without such improvements, any road upgrades would be quickly destroyed.

Every year, the county prepares an application for federal community development funds, which are designed to help low- and moderate-income areas.

At last week’s commission meeting, the county held a public hearing to determine for which projects residents would like federal funds. Some had already submitted requests beforehand, including a number of water projects in the county’s rural areas.

County staffers presented requests for a community-based inmate area at the jail and a baling facility for the county’s proposed public works complex.

But most people at this week’s meeting expressed support for the Tecolote project.

“You would be able to start the project right away because the work has been done on the designs,” said Angela Herrera, a Tecolote resident. “If the designs get too old, they’ll require that we do them again.”

Commission Chairman David Salazar, who represents Tecolote, urged his colleagues to choose that project for federal money.

“If we don’t get it done, we’d have a project half completed,” he said. “It could again become a problem area.”

Commissioner June Garcia agreed.

“We need to finish what we start and not have too many pots on the stove,” she said.

County Manager Les Montoya said he was thinking along the same lines. “The chances of getting the money are great,” he said.

Commissioner Kenny Medina said he would support the project because it was important for the county to work together. And Commissioner Albert Padilla said that if the county decides against the second phase, the Tecolote project will cost more in the end.

Alex Tafoya, the county’s planning and zoning supervisor, said the community has worked closely with the county to make the project a reality, noting that the Tecolote Land Grant donated land for a retention pond. “They have a vested interest in the project,” he said.