From LCVA’s President, Carl Dickens…
Sunday morning I realized one of the reasons this was taking me so long to write.
With this Annual Meeting I am entering my tenth year as LCVA president; it will also be my last. It is a personal decision based on a desire to do other things. I plan to remain involved in the community, just not on the LCVA Board. It is simply time for a change.
Preparing for the annual meeting requires the LCVA president to summarize the LCVA’s activity over the past year and to provide some thoughts about what our community can expect over the next twelve months.
Some of that information is included in this email but I also want to take the opportunity to explain some of the special challenges that face our community, from my perspective. This may seem odd but our location impacts several of those issues. The location of our community requires us to have to interact and respond to Federal, State agencies and County departments as well as engaging the City of Santa Fe and the Pueblo of Pojoaque when needed. Each government entity has it rules and regulations and bureaucracies we have to deal with.
The biggest and sustained frustration we experience, as a community, is when these bureaucracies fail to engage and unfortunately in some cases flatly ignore our community’s interests. Some federal agencies suffer from what I describe as bureaucratic arrogance. They wield their wide power with little regard to its impact on communities. High on that list is the BLM which controls large tracts of land that border our community including an Area of Critical Environmental Concern along the Santa Fe River.
The frustration with BLM has built over last several years. In that time BLM has taken a series of actions with little regard to our community. A few years ago the LCVA was encouraged to organize a group of residents to help determine the future use of the Rael Farm in El Canon. The LCVA gathered a group of six volunteers. BLM never held a meeting with the group and now are making plans for the farm with limited community input.
Please don’t get me wrong there are good people that work for the BLM. Through my involvement with the Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative I have been impressed with their wildlife biologist Valerie Williams’ appreciation of our community but the overall leadership leaves a lot to be desired. The BLM is in the process of hiring a new District Manager for our area, the LCVA is hopeful the new Manager will be willing to reach out and work with the communities it has such significant impacts on.
We depend on the County to provide services, to protect our community, address infrastructure needs and provide assistance when we need it but it has become difficult to identify how to get their attention or to understand the County’s intentions. We have experienced our share of frustrations, as have other rural communities, in dealing with a bureaucracy that is unpredictable, unresponsive and too often acts independent of community interests.
These fall back to management issues, inadequate training and the inability to recognize, reward and retain quality employees. Just ask the Planning Committee how many “new” County planners they have worked with in the last three years. The overly political nature of doing things with the County only makes matters worse.
These frustrations lead to discussion of incorporating our community. Incorporation would give us greater control over decisions that affect our community and protects our history and traditions. This will be an LCVA topic of discussion over the next year.
Another community challenge is how we communicate. It has been a while since we have had an LCVA newsletter. As noted in community emails before, we continued to have spotty delivery but the cost of almost $500per issue and the most recent USPS requirement to mail our newsletter to the residents north of 599 on Route 14 pushed things beyond our reach.
I personally believe that in a community of over 4,000 residents a community newsletter is a good way to communicate important community news and issues. I will work to secure funding and will work with our friends at the Post Office to see if we can improve delivery of the newsletter. At the same time we will continue to build our internet and social media presence as another important and essential form of communication.
Trails have been a controversial topic in our community. One of the central tensions is with established ranchers and farmers who are tired of dealing with trespassers, vandals and people shooting their livestock. Adding trails into this under enforced mix is simply something they don’t want.
On the other side of the issue are residents, who are hikers, bicyclists and riders who support trails. The LCVA Trails Committee seeks a balance that provides access to trails while respecting and protecting the rights and privacy of property owners.
The LCVA will continue to work to educate our residents on water issues. We continue to experience the effects of the long-term drought, lot splits and family transfers continue adding more wells and the large water users continue their demand on our limited water sources. This simply can’t continue.
The LCVA will provide residents suggestions and ideas on how to save water and will work to have the La Cienega Watershed Conditions implemented requiring homes to connect to the County water system.
LCVA Water Committee Meeting and Monitoring Plan
The LCVA Water Committee will hold a meeting at 6:00, Tuesday, May 5 to discuss the water monitoring plan and how to fund it. The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources which is conducting the monitoring program, is assessing a $10,000 per year for those services.
Our community friends at El Rancho de las Golondrinas have committed $10,000 for the next two years and will serve as the projects fiscal agent. The LCVA will be involved in actively fund raising for the monitoring program which will include soliciting donations from residents, area businesses and exploring grant opportunities.
The folks from the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources will be monitoring 25 wells in La Cienega twice a year to determine effects and impacts to the aquifer that feeds our springs, streams and domestic wells. This information is essential in documenting changes to our aquifer.
Community Clean Up
Put it on your calendar and please join us on Saturday, May 16 for a much needed community cleanup. The LCVA will be working with the County to secure trash bags and vests for the cleanup. Details will follow soon. The LCVA would like to recognize residents Marlene Foster and Susan Reid for their tireless efforts in keeping our community clean.
Bridge and Road Issues
Our community has four bridges/crossings that are in need of County attention. Two of them are on Los Pinos Road where the Arroyo Chamiso and the Arroyo Honda crossings were completed silted in, in last August’s flood event. These are major drainages and these crossings need bridges not culverts and includes the addressing the problems that the illegal, too small bridge (that Advantage Asphalt built across the Arroyo Hondo on North Las Estrellas) has caused.
In La Cieneguilla the Calle Debra Bridge continues to show signs of damage from being saturated by the water from the beaver dams. The water is down around the bridge, thanks to the County installing beaver deceivers but the damage has been done. Estimated cost of replacement is $1 million. Farther down the river the beaver have blocked both the regular culverts and overflow culverts at the Paseo Rael Bridge causing the river to flow along Paseo Rael damaging both the bridge and roadway.
One of the problems that the County has in clearing the Paseo Rael culverts is they don’t have access to cross BLM land to perform the necessary work. The LCVA, in conjunction with the Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative, has attempted to get the County’s Public Works Department to work with BLM to establish an easement. We have not been successful and both the LCVA and SFRTCC are now considering presenting photos of the culverts and the during “matters from the public” portion of the County Commission meeting to draw attention to the problem.
Fall Festival – Community Party
Resident Bonnie McGahee and community friend Mikki Anaya have begun planning a Fall Festival Event tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 10. Although we are calling it a Fall Festival it really is intended to be a community party and celebration for all of us to enjoy. The festival day will include kid and adult activities, live performances, special events, music, vendors and all kinds of food and drink.
Please look forward to details on the Fall Festival and please consider volunteering to help plan the day long show. Bonnie and Mikki will be looking for local vendors, artists, musicians and anyone else who wants to join the party.
La Cienega Farmers’ Market
Don’t forget the Sunday Farmers Market at the El Rancho de las Golondrinas beginning with the Summer Festival. The Summer Festival which will be held on August 1 and 2, the Farmers’ Market will be held every Sunday after that with the exception of special weekend events held at the museum.
Community Breakfast 9-11, Annual Meeting at 11 this Saturday.