Taking in around 10,000 animals a year, not to mention the more than 40,000 people who visit the building annually, the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley is an endlessly busy place.
Located at 3551 Bataan Memorial West near the intersection of Rinconada Boulevard, the center’s shelter and adoption service is housed inside a one-story structure built in 1982.
It is a building that has long been showing its age with cracks in the walls, plumbing issues, a lack of adequate ventilation, and the simple wear and tear that comes from being one of the most used public facilities in the city.
It is also a structure that in recent years has been housing roughly twice as many animals as it was originally designed to hold.
But now, center officials are making preparations for new facility improvements in the wake of an election last month that saw some 67 percent of Las Cruces voters approving a general obligation bond providing $9.8 million in funding to put up a new shelter.
The bond measure was one of four successful referendums totaling $35 million that will pay for parks and recreation improvements, a new fire station, and the building of new multi-use trails throughout Las Cruces.
For Clint Thacker, the election results couldn’t be better news.
“We’ve been very excited about it,” says Thacker, the executive director of the center, noting with some wonder how quickly it all came about.
Talk of including a new animal shelter as one of the city’s general obligation bonds only became general this spring, with the Las Cruces City Council in early June unanimously agreeing to send the question to voters.
“I was very surprised by how quickly everything came together, how organized things became, the advertising that went out for it,” says Thacker, who became the new head of the Animal Services Center last November.
“It only goes to show how many people realized there was a real need here and wanted to do something about it,” continues Thacker.
A key supporter of the move to build a new animal shelter has been Las Cruces Assistant Manager David Dollahon.
During a May meeting of the Dona Ana County Commission, Dollahon noted the somewhat depleted condition of facilities at the center’s site, remarking: “We have an old modular building that is to the west of the shelter and actually needs to be destroyed. It is not in good condition. “
Uniquely, the center is jointly funded by both the City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County, with Las Cruces currently giving the facility $1.2 million a year for operating expenses and the county kicking in around $900,000.
In a unanimous vote during that May meeting, the commissioners agreed to up their contribution in next year’s budget to $1.2 million.
For Animal Service Center supporters, such funding is needed just to keep pace with the facility’s 24-hour demands. According to records kept by the shelter, any day can see up to two dozen or more new animals brought in, many of which are given up by their owners.
In just June alone the shelter received 502 dogs and 382 cats.
And that’s not taking into account the surprise event, such as the more than 100 cats that were brought in last spring, the result of a hoarding case.
Thacker notes that the center is now actively engaged in the process of “trying to decide who we are going to go with as far as a firm to help design” the new shelter building.
“The plan right now, and it could change because we have not done any of the designs yet, is to build the new building on site, as close as possible to the current shelter,” says Thacker.
That structure, meanwhile, is to remain intact, but after the new building is completed, will be used primarily as a spay and neuter clinic.
“And it will be a large scale spay and neuter clinic,” says Thacker. “We’re talking about thousands and thousands of animals per year who will be sterilized there.”
The bond-funded project, which will also allow for the construction of a small dog park on site, will additionally see a building with expanded kennel space for dogs and room for cats, as well as a modern treatment area for all of the animals.
As currently configured, adds Thacker, the new structure will be built on the west side of the site, facing Rinconada Boulevard.
By Garry Boulard
The Omaha, Nebraska-based Creighton University has announced plans to build a new campus in Phoenix in a part of the midtown area dominated by new office skyscrapers.
The project will see the construction of a 200,000 square foot building that will go up at the northwest corner of North Central Avenue and West Catalina Drive.
That site is currently a parking lot.
The new eight-story structure will be built to house up to 800 students and will include classroom, offices, and laboratory space. An additional facility may be built later.
Creighton officials have said that they want to establish a campus in Phoenix that will include a four-year medical school, occupational and physical therapy school, an emergency medical services program, and nursing school, among other disciplines.
Altogether, the project, officially called the Creighton University Phoenix Health Sciences Campus, is expected to cost around $100 million to build and will be an expansion of Creighton’s Phoenix presence: the private university opened a school of medicine in the city nearly a decade ago.
Work on the new building is expected to begin next spring with an early summer 2021 completion date.
Creighton is a private Jesuit school founded in 1878 in Omaha known internationally for its schools of nursing, dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy.
By Garry Boulard
In a move that officials say will substantially increase broadband infrastructure projects across the country, the Federal Communications Commission is set to issue a new set of rulings governing the use of public right-of-ways.
The working draft, Declaratory Ruling and Order, will push for exempting some projects from environmental and historic preservation reviews, while also limiting aesthetic requirements.
The draft will also address the increasingly contentious issue of state and local government fees specific to new broadband infrastructure projects.
Industry leaders in recent years have charged that such fees have been used as a means of raising revenue for local and state governments, and have increasingly become an impediment to the building of new infrastructure.
If the FCC’s new proposed guidelines become official, says Forbes magazine, they could “stimulate $2.4 billion in additional infrastructure investment” that would provide high-speed coverage to “an additional 1.8 million homes, primarily in rural and suburban communities.”
The new guidelines will also establish what are known as “shot clocks,” requiring that state and local governments must respond within 60 days to applications for existing facilities, and 90 days for new construction.
In a statement, Tom Cochran, the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said that group strongly opposes the FCC’s move to “grant communications service providers subsidized access to local public property and to dictate how local governments manage their own local rights-of-way and public property.”
Cochran added: “This unprecedented federal intrusion into local and state government property rights will have substantial adverse impacts on cities and their taxpayers, including reduced funding for essential local government services, as well as an increased risk of right-of-way and other public safety hazards.”
The new FCC guidelines are expected to be announced on September 26.
By Garry Boulard
A push is underway for the facility expansion of one of the most popular schools on the main Las Cruces campus of New Mexico State University: the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
Members of NMSU’s Board of Regents have now voted to support passage of General Obligation Bond D on this November’s ballot, which, if passed, would provide some $25 million in funding for the project.
Included in that work would be the building of more space for meat processing, food safety, and production workshops.
There will also be an animal nutrition and feed manufacturing facility, as well as a biomedical research center designed to study and address such issues as border population health problems.
In a statement, NMSU System Chancellor Garrey Carruthers noted that “after generations of use, many of our agricultural facilities are growing old and in need of repair.”
The passage of the GO Bond, said Carruthers, will not only allow the university the opportunity to upgrade and expand those facilities, but “also add new dimensions to our research, including food safety and security.”
NMSU’S role in agricultural studies is essential to its historical mission. Launched as a land grant school in 1888, it was shortly thereafter named the New Mexico School of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts.
The current agricultural college at NMSU is dedicated to community and economic development through its studies on food production, water usage conservation, and environmental stewardship, among other program offerings.
Additional projects in the NMSU system that will be funded by the GO Bond include facility and infrastructure upgrades, renovations, and construction at NMSU’s campuses in Alamogordo and Grants, as well as the campus of Dona Ana Community College.
By Garry Boulard
Looking at a population that is younger than the national average, officials in the east central Colorado town of Fountain are thinking about building a new recreation center that would appeal especially to that demographic.
Town officials also note that Fountain’s population has nearly doubled since 2000, from 15,200 to more than 29,000, according to the most recent Census Bureau survey, increasing the need for such a facility.
Earlier this year, the Highlands Ranch-based recreational consulting firm Ballard King and Associates released a document called Feasibility Study for Regional Recreational Facility that noted that Fountain area residents were “overwhelmingly in favor of having a regional center.”
That regional center would serve both Fountain and the town of Security-Widefield seven miles to the north, the construction of which would most likely be a joint project between the two towns.
That would mean that any new recreation centers, which would include a gymnasium, swimming pool, and fitness space, among other amenities, would also be serving a cumulative population of more than 61,000 people.
It is thought that such a facility would cost at least $25 million to build.
Although no timeline or funding for the recreation center has been identified, it’s possible that the project may end up as a bond proposal sometime next year.
By Garry Boulard
The Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation has announced plans to design and construct up to 10,000 new locations that will emphasize energy-efficient and sustainable building features.
The project is expected to take 7 years to fully complete and will begin with the coffee store giant studying many of its current shops in the U.S. and Canada to look at how space is being used and to what degree the shops are energy efficient.
“We know that designing and building green stores is not only responsible, but it is cost-effective as well,” said Starbucks chief executive officer Kevin Johnson in a statement announcing the green initiative.
Johnson added that Starbucks was determined to “find ways to operate a greener store that will generate even greater cost savings while reducing impact.”
Ultimately, the company wants to move towards having its company-run stores built for LEED certification, focusing on reducing and energy usage by anywhere from 25 to 30 percent, with such locations eventually running on 100 percent renewable energy.
In embracing a greener approach to design and building, Starbucks also hopes to reduce by up to $50 million its utility costs over the next decade.
What is being called the “Starbucks Greener Stores” initiative has won the praise of the World Wildlife Fund. In a statement, Erin Simon, the director of research and development for that group, lauded Starbucks for “looking holistically at stores and their role in helping to ensure the future health of our natural resources.”
Starbucks already has more than 1,500 LEED-certified stores in operation out of its more than 28,000 locations globally.
By Garry Boulard
Plans for the construction of a unique village that will encircle a working farm several miles north of the town of Taos may soon be submitted to Taos County by several developers.
To be carved out of currently vacant land on the west side of New Mexico State Road 150, between Gavilian Drive and Camino del Cielo, the proposed Tarleton Ranch Eco-Village could ultimately see the construction of some four hundred new houses.
The project, which has been in the talking stage for months, would see clusters of those homes divided by streetways on the west and east side of the site, surrounding a more than 160-acre farm at the center.
Just to the west of that farm would be a village center featuring a hotel, offices, and commercial space that could include a restaurant, bank, coffeehouse, bakery, and pharmacy.
The village, with an emphasis on walkable and open space, might prove particularly appealing for those who regularly visit the nearby Taos Ski Valley, just over 10 miles to the northeast.
Proponents of the idea also say the village could help to alleviate a growing need for housing in the vicinity of the Town of Taos.
Project developers have met with a group called the Upper Las Colonias Neighborhood, some members of which have expressed concerns about the scale of the village, as well as the likely increase in traffic on the two-lane State Route 150.
It has not yet been announced when the plans for the Tarleton Ranch Eco
By Garry Boulard
A nearly 9-mile bike trail connecting the main campus of the University of New Mexico with the Balloon Fiesta Park may soon see the construction of a long-hoped for underpass.
Some $2 million in funding has been secured to build the underpass at the Indian School Road, with design work on the project set for completion next year.
The popular and heavily-used trail follows the North Diversion Channel. Launched in 1969, the channel diverts runoff from the arroyos, carrying waters from the general UNM area north to the Rio Grande.
The project is being put together jointly by the City of Albuquerque Parks & Recreation Department, the Department of Municipal Development, and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority.
If all goes according to plan, construction of the new underpass could begin next year with a general 2020 completion date.
By Garry Boulard
A public comment period is set to expire on October 30 regarding a sweeping new set of rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and designed to replace the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.
The new Affordable Clean Energy proposal will give to the states the authority to create their own rules for coal-fired plants. In so doing, the states would also be allowed to relax restrictions governing the amount of allowable greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
According to sources, the new rules, if implemented, would allow for twelve times more greenhouse gases to be emitted than what is currently allowed under the Clean Power Plan.
Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide target emission reductions of around 20 percent would be reduced in the Affordable Clean Energy plan to some 1 percent.
The proposed rules, said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement, would “restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans.”
The proposal has won the support of the American Coal Council, but has also been criticized by the American Institute of Architects which has charged that the new rules would be “detrimental to the health of all Americans and will greatly undermine the fight against global warming.”
The proposal would additionally give the states up to three years to formulate their own plans.
The Clean Power Plan, unveiled by Obama in the summer of 2014, was designed to move away from a reliance on coal in favor of gas and renewable energy as power sources.
EPA officials have said that the new rules, if enacted, will save the power industry anywhere from $300 to $500 million in compliance costs.
By Garry Boulard
Some ten El Paso properties, the majority of which are regarded as historic, could be sold in a one-of-a-kind auction on November 6.
The structures all belong to developer William Abraham and his company Franklin Acquisitions of El Paso.
Earlier this year, Abraham filed for bankruptcy, beginning a process that has seen U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Mott hearing arguments from the developer who has maintained that if allowed to reorganize his estate, he would have the money needed to bring the buildings up to code.
Preservationists have stressed the historic importance of most of the properties, arguing that with adequate investment they could be redeveloped into hotel, retail, and office space.
Among the properties in question are the Kress Building at 211 N. Mesa Street, the Caples Building at 300 E. San Antonio Avenue, and the Toltec Club Building at 717 E. San Antonio Avenue.
All three buildings are more than 100 years old.
Under the rules of the planned auction, successful bidders would have to commit to rehabilitate the properties and, in the process, address all city code violations. The bidders would also be required to give evidence of having the financial ability to take on such work.
Abraham has consistently denied that the buildings in question are in a dilapidated condition. The developer has also said that he is working with his son-in-law Marco Zaragoza on a joint venture agreement that would provide enough funding to pay his debts and upgrade the structures.
It is not yet known if the Abraham-Zaragoza move to salvage the buildings will be agreed to by the court, thus forestalling the auction.
By Garry Boulard
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