The old Cariños de Los Niños Charter School campus is now the site of the Cariños Community Hub.
The building was purchased in June by Rio Arriba County and it has been unclear what services and organizations would use the space. A newly-created community task force of representatives from the County, Española School District, city of Española, United Way of Northern New Mexico and Northern Community College will identify the best uses of the property.
“There is some good, concrete decisions that have been made and some next steps,” United Way Rio Arriba Community Liaison Roger Montoya said.
The most realized project is the Española Lowrider Museum, which will be housed in a building formerly used for storage.
Montoya said the Coalition already has a lease with the County for the museum space and the goal is to host a soft opening May 5.
The United Way is already using the building as office space and Victory Faith Outreach uses the gym for adult and youth basketball games.
Montoya is also working with University of New Mexico School of Architecture Professor Raymond Moises Gonzales. His students will complete a Cariños Community Hub master plan in May, which can be submitted along with future Capital Outlay requests at the legislature.
Montoya serves on the task force alongside United Way Executive Director Mary Beth Maassen, County Economic Development Director Christopher Madrid, Española Mayor Javier Sanchez, Española Planning and Land Use Director Alison Gillette, Northern President Rick Bailey, College interim vice president of finance and administration Ricky Bejarano and Española School District Assistant Director District Homeless Liaison Anna Vargas.
Montoya said they will hold two community meetings for people to share their needs, desires, thoughts and expectations for the facility’s use. They will also develop a system for people to contribute their ideas through the internet.
“It really is a cool asset and it is going to take the whole community to come together to realize its full potential,” Madrid said.
Montoya, through the organization he co-founded, Moving Arts Española, applied for a Ford Foundation Grant to create the Moving Arts Española Lowrider Art Lab at the Cariños Community Hub.
He specifically applied for a grant under the arts and culture program with a focus on racial and disability justice.
The Lab would be adjacent to the Lowrider Museum and host ongoing workshops related to lowrider art, such as drawing, painting design and storytelling, as well as the design, creation and repair of lowrider bicycles.
It is a space that will celebrate the heritage of the Española Valley and showcase the talents of artists with disabilities.
“By occupying space in rooms adjacent to the Española Lowrider Museum, we will establish a pathway for those inspired by the museum exhibits to find their voice in the making of lowrider art,” the grant application states.
The grant would be for $95,000 in 2019 and an additional $80,000 in 2020.
The money would be used to pay part-time salaries for two in-resident artist/mentors, four youth artist/mentor assistants and equipment and installation costs for bike welding and painting shops in 2019, the grant application states.
In 2020, the money would be used to pay for two artist/mentors and eight youth assistants.
Montoya said they will find out if they received the grant in early March.
County officials requested $100,000 for the Cariños Community Hub and $75,000 for the Española Lowrider Museum in Capital Outlay from the legislature.
Madrid said the money would be used to do some building maintenance.
Some heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment needs to be replaced, new windows need to be installed as well as new roofing, he said. There will also be some electrical work done on the building.
Before County officials purchased the property in June 2018, people stole all of the copper wiring from the building that will house the Lowrider Museum.
Although they probably only got a couple of hundred dollars for the copper, it will cost about $16,000 to repair and replace, Madrid said.
It will take more time to figure out all of the upgrades and repairs the buildings need.
Asbestos removal in the building where the Lowrider Museum will be has already been completed, he said.
They have been able to get some building upgrades free of charge.
The County has been renting out the campus to the film industry, Madrid said. In addition to paying for use, they also clean, paint and sometimes replace things like doors and fixtures in the spaces they use for filming.
“They pay pretty well so that is some dollars we can set aside for the campus,” he said.
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