Hearing it from both sides

Española resident Satguru Khalsa (center) was the sole member of the public to attend either of the two hearings that will determine the city government’s application for a federal grant this year. She is pictured, May 24, with former city clerk Anna Squires (left) and Grants Manager Diahann Jacquez.

    The only Española citizen who showed up for one of the two public hearings on federal grant money had a straightforward message: put money toward the objectives of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

    “The Comprehensive Plan is what we oughta (follow),” Española resident Satguru Khalsa said. “Pedestrian friendly, more of that kind of thing. ... Just start with what Thomas Eddington came up with.”

    Eddington was the lead consultant hired by the city to create the Plan.

    Among many other proposals, the Plan calls for city officials to plant more trees and to collaborate with neighboring pueblos and county governments, and the state Department of Transportation.

    Khalsa said city officials should fund those two initiatives through a Community Development Block Grant.

    “We have two counties, two pueblos, and we’re suing each other, we have to play together to make this work,” Española resident Satguru Khalsa said during the second hearing, May 24.

    Collaboration is needed to have safe water, safe dirt and safe air in the city, she said.

    She was part of a group of residents who helped write and edit the plan.

    Khalsa, 81, also said it is difficult to walk around the city.

    “I won’t walk on (Paseo de) Oñate, up on the highway,” she said. “I would love to walk over to Del Norte (Credit Union), but I won’t do it. It doesn’t feel safe.”

    The Plan states that all streets should be constructed or resurfaced and painted to address all modes of transportation including pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.

    “The complete street philosophy also recommends the consistent use of street trees and pedestrian level lighting (specifically in commercial districts),” the Plan states.

    No Española residents appeared at the first hearing, May 23, except for the city employees running it and a Rio Grande SUN reporter.

    The purpose of the hearings was to report on previous efforts by the city government to secure and spend Community Block Grant funding and to receive input from city residents about what to ask for this year.

    Local governments can apply for up to $750,000 in federal money through the program, overseen by state Department of Finance and Administration officials, to pay for public infrastructure and buildings.

    Notices for the hearings were posted 10 days prior, on the city website and in the physical locations where the city’s public meetings are always posted, Española Grants Manager Diahann Jacquez said.

    City Clerk Anna Squires said the city did not have enough money in the budget to advertise the hearings.

    State officials denied the city government’s request for $750,000 in 2017 to pay for repairs to the roofs of the Misión y Convento at the Plaza de Española, the Lucero Center and the Northern New Mexico Regional Art Center.

    Two years ago, Española officials starting submitting their financial audits to state regulators on time. Before then, they were not allowed to apply for the grant, Jacquez said, because they were not in compliance with 2013 executive order by Gov. Susana Martinez that prohibited governments with late financial audits from receiving public funds.

    City officials must turn in an application for the grant funding by June 22.

    Jacquez said May 29 she needs to speak with City Manager Kelly Duran so a decision can be made about what the application will be.

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