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EDITORIAL: Path is a good idea

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By The Staff

Over the years, the San Miguel County government has shown that it is forward-looking with its projects. For instance, a planned crusher operation is expected to cut the costs of maintaining roads. And a proposed transfer station with a railroad spur is expected to make the county’s solid waste operations more efficient.

In the last few years, the county has completed a new courthouse and a public health office. This is real progress.

Now, the county is planning a pedestrian-bicyclist path along Cinder Road. We wholeheartedly endorse this project.

To its credit, the county obtained about $600,000 in funding from outside sources to begin the first phase of construction of the path. And one of the biggest reasons for it is to give people another place where they can exercise.

The county wants to link its path with the city’s riverwalk, which extends from Mills Avenue to Independence Avenue. Eventually, the county hopes to continue the path all the way to the United World College in Montezuma.

Another important reason for the path is its benefits in the way of economic development. When companies look at towns for possible relocations, quality of life is an big factor in their decisions. In this case, a path extending from Las Vegas to Montezuma would be a big selling point for our area.

At a public hearing last week, one resident suggested that Las Vegas is trying to be like Farmington with its proposed path. Indeed, Farmington has a nice riverwalk, but our county is not trying to imitate any other community. It is simply aiming to do something that will make Las Vegas a better place to live.

The same resident also argued that the money for the path could be better used for weatherizing the homes of the elderly. Certainly, this community has many needs. But that shouldn’t foreclose any possibility of a project that could improve everyone’s quality of life. Besides, the grant funding is specifically designated for a path; it can’t be used for any other purpose.

The biggest concern about the path is that it may impede the flow of acequias, which are community-operated ditches. In this regard, the county should go to great lengths to address these worries. Acequias are a big part of our local culture, and they must be respected.

At the hearing, some residents expressed concern about trash and traffic resulting from a path next to their properties. These are understandable fears, but we think the landowners along Cinder could actually benefit from the path — in the form of increased property values. After all, the path will include attractive features, including two small parks.

The county was originally planning to start construction in May, but it will likely delay the project for a month as it addresses acequias’ concerns, which we believe is a good move.

Overall, we are enthusiastic about this project, and it should have benefits for the entire community. We appreciate the county’s vision for bettering Las Vegas.