Like most other cities in New Mexico, Las Cruces has significant infrastructure needs.
At a recent work session, City Council reviewed a list of $55 million in capital improvement projects to prioritize for the 2020 state legislative session.
Public safety is first on the City’s wish list.
Grants Administrator Amy Johnson Bassford said the City is seeking nearly $10 million to build a regional training facility for police and fire departments. That money would also replace SWAT tactical vehicles and upgrade the communication system to connect law enforcement agencies in the region.
“Right now, every law enforcement agency is on a different frequency. This would allow the City's police department and fire department to talk to any other law enforcement agency in the region regardless of what frequency they are on and that is a standard that's been set nationally that every law enforcement agency is to move to," Johnson Bassford said.
Voters approved a General Obligation bond measure in 2018 to develop a recreational complex in the East Mesa region. Along with upgrading water lines and sewer systems in the area, Bassford said the City is asking for $3.5 million to build a road to the complex.
“The road that we're requesting funding for would be access to that new complex. We'd like to have it done in cooperation with the construction that is going to go on at the complex to achieve, you know, efficiencies and cost-effectiveness for the entire project," Johnson Bassford said. "Additionally, there are a lot of unpaved roads on the east side of the City that need to have drainage projects completed and then in the future roads."
At nearly $20 million, building projects make up the largest funding request.
Bassford said the City owns more than 100 buildings that need to be upgraded over time. That means updates to the Branigan Cultural Center, a new municipal court building and transit facility, police station renovations and restoring the Amador Hotel.
Heather Pollard is president of the Amador Hotel Foundation. She asked the City to prioritize a $2 million request to preserve the City-owned hotel that’s stood in downtown since the 1870s.
“We have to put the floors back in and we are going to bring the exterior back to its original. We need a new roof. The $2 million will include all of that. With $2 million we feel we can restore it, have it habitable and as you know it is on the south end of Main Street. So, it is the gateway to our Main Street, to our downtown and a huge economic development driver," Pollard said.
Parks and recreation requests total more than $11 million. Some of that money would go to repair soccer fields, volleyball courts, parking lots and the gazebo at Pioneer Women’s Park.
Councilor Gabe Vasquez said after meeting with local youth last year, his top goals in District 3 include getting $3 million to renovate the City’s skate park and build another.
“They talked about the need to have a better space for them to enjoy their skating activities but also to build community, to be together as Las Crucens and to be proud of the home that they live in," Vasquez said. "And so, it’s really important for me to bring a new skatepark home to them, considering that cities like Alamogordo and Silver City have better skating facilities than we do. So, I think it’s time that the youth of Las Cruces get their skatepark."
Vasquez also advocated for a $1 million project to turn the Villa Mora Dam area near Madrid Avenue and Triviz Drive into a nature park.
“The Villa Mora Dam project is so important—one, because the city already owns the land. Two, because it adds to the public health, quality-of-life components that we have by allowing people to recreate both by walking and running and jogging in the inner city. It also provides access to this natural space that’s located within the City," Vasquez said.
The City Council is set to meet on Dec. 2 to approve a resolution to move forward with its capital funding requests, when a smaller list of projects is expected to be presented. The 2020 legislative session begins in late January.
View the full slideshow of capital funding requests presented to the City here.