A new 98,000 square foot recreation center could be in Grand Junction’s future, depending upon the results of a special election in April.
That election will see voters giving either a thumbs up or down to a proposal calling for a new 0.39 percent sales tax, the revenues of which will go for the construction of the center.
Long talked about in the city, the facility will go up on some 25 acres inside the Matchett Park about 5 miles northeast of downtown Grand Junction.
As planned, the center, which is expected to cost around $50 million to build, will house both swimming and therapy pools, as well as meeting rooms, and a child supervision area.
An additional 50 acres of the park would be developed for use as an outdoor fitness area and skate park, with basketball, pickle ball, and tennis courts.
If passed, the sales tax will also fund the renovation of existing pool facilities in the Orchard Mesa Community Center at 2736 Unaweep Avenue on the southeast side of the city.
A recent city-wide survey conducted by the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department indicated that some 88 percent of respondents said they were in favor of a new community recreation center, even if it meant an increase in the local sales tax.
By Garry Boulard
Construction companies nationally may be on the verge of embracing the latest generation of cellular mobile communications known as 5G.
Industry analysts are predicting that this will be the year when the new technology really takes off: “5G connectivity is what is going to power everything that the different engineering branches are going to be working with starting in 2019 and onward,” says the Interesting Engineering website.
The new technology, which is said to be twenty times faster than current wireless technology, is poised to be used for everything from lighting smart cities, to machine-to-machine connectivity, and city infrastructure.
“It’s a once-in-a-decade upgrade to our wireless systems that will start reaching mobile users in a matter of months,” predicts the New York Times.
5G technology will also see increased use with industrial robots, drones, and security cameras, in a move that will see it “leap ahead of current wireless technology.”
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has said that his agency is determined to facilitate a comprehensive 5G adaptation strategy based on the creation of more spectrum into the marketplace, updating infrastructure policy, and modernizing outdated regulations.
Last month Verizon Wireless reaffirmed its commitment to making the new technology more available throughout the country, with Ronan Dunne, the executive vice-president of the company, predicting: “By 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide.”
In a statement, Dunne added: “Much of that growth will come from the digitization of transportation, agriculture, and other physical industries.”
And as more companies adapt 5G technology, more companies will sign on just to remain competitive.
“Companies now need the fastest and most reliable networks to keep up with this demand,” says Machine Design magazine, “whether that is for streaming services, mobile applications, or connected machines.”
For the construction industry, continues Machine Design, 5G-powered self-driving machines will be able to “recognize signals, map an area more accurately, and communicate with each other far more easily than ever before.”
“All of this,” predicts the magazine, “will make construction sites run more efficiently and safely.”
Despite the enthusiasm for the new technology, many experts are predicting that 5G’s nationwide availability will not be a reality until late 2022 or early 2023.
By Garry Boulard
Looking at nearly $500,000 to renovate the existing building that serves as its President’s House, the Portales-based Eastern New Mexico University has decided to put up a new building instead.
The one-story 5,000 square foot brick structure at 1600 W. Cherry Street, which is currently the official residence of President Jeff Elwell, was earlier found to have asbestos infestation in its ceiling, floors, and walls.
Last fall, members of the school’s Board of Regents received a report saying that it would cost around $490,000 to eradicate the building’s asbestos and generally renovate the structure.
Built in the late 1960s, the structure, on the northwest side of the campus, has served as the President’s House since 1973 and is often used for both school and community functions.
The regents were additionally told that the new house for the president, measuring between 2,500 and 3,500 square feet, could cost up to $700,000 to build.
In a unanimous vote, the regents have decided to go the new building route, although funding for the project has not yet been identified.
But those same regents have vowed that any funding for the structure will not come through increased tuitions or student fees.
By Gary Boulard
Although there are only two operating casinos in all of Texas, a Lone Star legislator would like to significantly expand that number in a bill that would allow for the creation of five new gaming operations in the state.
Representative Harold Dutton, Jr., whose legislative district includes the city of Houston, has introduced legislation that will allow for the creation of a process, the end result of which could see the building of the new casinos.
Dutton’s bill empowers the Texas State Legislature to “authorize the operation of casino gaming in this state in which individuals for consideration play games of chance that award prizes and are operated by persons licensed to conduct casino gaming.”
Dutton has emphasized that a portion of the revenues from the new casinos would go to pre-kindergarten education programs in Texas.
The legislation would specifically require the establishment of a state gambling commission whose job would be to approve the new casino operating licenses.
That same commission would additionally be tasked with implementing “procedures for the monitoring and inspection of casino gaming operations, as necessary, to protect the public health, welfare, and safety.”
The legislation, importantly, would also require a vote among the residents of the five counties where a new casino may be built.
One of those counties is El Paso County, whose largest city is El Paso.
Currently there are only two operating casinos in Texas, both of which are operated by Native American tribes: the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, and Naskila Gaming in Livingston.
By Garry Boulard
A move to transform 100 percent of the country’s electricity supply to renewable energy is receiving substantial support among candidates running for next year’s Democratic presidential nomination.
California Senator Kamala Harris has announced her support for what is being called the Green New Deal, an initiative that would make the U.S. entirely carbon neutral by the year 2035.
In announcing her support of the effort, Harris said, “Climate change is an existential threat to us, and we have got to deal with the reality of it.”
Harris joins several other Democrat presidential candidates, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have also endorsed the Green New Deal.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is thinking of mounting a 2020 presidential bid, recently numbered himself among the Green New Deal enthusiasts, saying such a plan should be “bold and ambitious, and most importantly, achievable.”
The Green New Deal takes its inspiration from a series of economic reform programs enacted during the Great Depression by President Franklin Roosevelt that were designed to enhance conservation and promote the arts, among other initiatives, while also increasing employment.
The most visible current proponent of the Green New Deal is New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has suggested imposing a 60 to 70 percent tax rate on incomes above $10 million in order to fund the program.
Other aspects of the program would see the government offering incentives to companies taking on green investment and reduced energy usage projects.
As envisioned, the Green New Deal would also mandate the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation, manufacturing, and agricultural segments of the national economy.
Ocasio-Cortez has additionally emphasized that, like the original New Deal, the Green New Deal could be a job provider, with employment increasing in infrastructure and clean energy projects.
The program is not without its detractors. Craig Richardson, president of the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute, has attacked the Green New Deal as unrealistic.
In a recent column for the Washington Examiner, Richardson took to task the program’s 10-year goal of decommissioning non-renewable energy power plants across the country, contending that such a timetable would “require many reliable plants to be taken offline far ahead of their scheduled retirement from service. This would needlessly drive up energy costs still further.”
Aspects of the Green New Deal are expected to be taken up this winter by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
But the Atlantic magazine is warning that Green New Deal enthusiasts should not expect to immediately achieve all of their goals.
Such success, the publication says, “will require Democrats to control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate—and then find a policy that will pass all three.”
By Garry Boulard
In a state with thousands of miles of roads in less than excellent condition, a legislative committee is urging a substantial funding commitment to improving them.
The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, a nonpartisan service agency providing fiscal research for the state’s lawmakers, is recommending that up to $400 million be appropriated during the current 2019 legislative session on road construction and upgrading.
In its report sent to state lawmakers, the committee notes that of that $400 million, $250 million could be used for “major investment projects to be specified by legislators, with priority given to projects with available matching funds.”
The committee additionally notes that it came to its conclusion after receiving input from the state’s Department of Transportation, adding that the DOT “provided suggestions for project selection based on district needs crucial for economic development, system maintenance, and safety improvement.”
“The focus of these projects is moving goods more efficiently to grow the economy,” the committee adds.
The committee has specifically called attention to some $98 million in projects that are already on the DOT’s transportation improvement list, along with another $53 million for New Mexico’s local government road fund.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has proposed an equally ambitious approach to fixing the state’s roads, but has called for a smaller $300 million in funding.
Both the Governor and legislators have pointed to what has been described as a temporary windfall due to oil and gas exploration revenue in the state, a figure thought to be in excess of $1 billion.
It has also been suggested that the state’s current gas tax, revenues of which would target future road projects, should be increased from its current 17 cents to 27 cents a gallon.
The last time that tax was increased was more than 25 years ago.
By Garry Boulard
The next step in the long-planned construction of a new visitors center at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Colorado Springs campus has been taken with a land annexation vote.
That vote, taken by the Colorado Planning Commission, allows the City of Colorado Springs to take in 183 acres in order for the visitor center project to qualify for some $120 million in Colorado sales tax rebates.
The center is part of the city’s ambitious tourist-oriented City for Champions initiative, a series of projects that includes the construction of an Olympic museum in Colorado Springs, a hockey arena on the campus of Colorado College, and a combined sports medicine/performance center on the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado.
As planned, the new $20 million visitors center will include exhibits, a merchandise shop, theater, and meeting room space.
Designed by the Matrix Design Group of Colorado Springs, the visitors center project will also see the companion construction of a hotel and both business and retail space on some 60 of the 183 annexed acres.
Air Force officials have said that a new visitors center is needed in order to accommodate the tens of thousands of tourists and other guests who visit the academy every year.
Work on the new center could launch in the latter part of 2021.
By Garry Boulard
What is known as Building Information Modeling, a high-tech process designed especially for use by builders, architects, and planners, has long enticed management experts touting its modern age potential.
Now, growing numbers of the construction industry are embracing BIM, notes a new survey jointly conducted by the Association of General Contractors and the Atlanta-based Sage Construction and Real Estate, promising a new kind of work efficiency.
The survey, published as a part of the 2019 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, notes that nearly 33 percent of more than 1,300 responding construction firms are currently using both BIM methods and offsite fabrication.
At the same time, nearly half of the responding firms are investing more in Internet solutions.
“Contractors are increasingly comfortable with IT, including file-sharing sites, online project collaboration software, moving data to the cloud, and various uses of mobile software technology,” says the report.
The downside of embracing IT technology, continues the report, is seen in the comments of nearly 25 percent of respondents who took note of the “time needed to implement and train on new technology.”
Even so, some 28 percent of respondents said they are putting money into laser and GPS-guided equipment, as well as robots, drones, and 3-D printers.
A smaller number, at 19 percent, indicated that they are using BIM technology for both clash detection and design process constructability input.
“In addition,” say the report, 14 percent of respondents say they are now using BIM technology to “visually communicate project scope to clients,” while others use it for cost-estimating, scheduling, and workforce planning.
Finally, construction companies appear to be increasingly comfortable with cloud-based technology or the ability to host a software service or platform from a remote location.
In this category, a leading 44 percent of companies say they are using cloud-based technology simply for daily field reports, while 40 percent have implemented the technology for accessing customer and job information from the field.
Respondents also mentioned that they were turning to cloud-based solutions to share drawings, photos and documents.
Adds the report: “Only 3 percent of respondents report that they have no plan to use mobile technology software, a decrease from 5 percent in last year’s survey.”
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin later this year on what is being described as a “city of the future” in Buckeye, Arizona.
Everything about the proposed Douglas Ranch is big, with plans for the building of more than 119,000 homes, 59 million square feet of both commercial and real estate, and an eventual total development and construction cost pegged at up to $10 billion.
Movers behind the massive project, which will also include a 300-acre central park and community center, predict that it will take at least two decades to fully build out a community that is expected to ultimately be called home to around 300,000 people.
Legendary businessman Jerry Colangelo, the former owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team and the Phoenix Suns basketball team, is spearheading a project that is also being done jointly by developers El Dorado Holdings of Scottsdale and JDM Partners of Phoenix.
Hopes for the success of Douglas Ranch are partly born of a demographic reality: Buckeye, on the western edge of metropolitan Phoenix, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
In just the last two decades its population has bloomed from 6,500 to around 70,000 today.
Although the sheer scope of the Douglas Ranch’s residential and commercial square footage has awed both its supporters and detractors, the project is also putting an emphasis on open space, with more than 4,000 desert acres inside the community to be set aside for preservation.
Initial construction will go up in the Douglas Ranch’s southeast planning area, a section of the community measuring more than 8,500 acres.
By Garry Boulard
If the funding can be secured, a new sports complex, providing indoor space for everything from basketball to soccer and volleyball, could be going up on the west side of Albuquerque.
The project has long been talked about among both City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County officials who have noted the lack of such space for local teams.
Although nothing is certain, preliminary plans have suggested that the new complex could be built near the existing Regional Sports Complex at 1801 Arroyo Vista Boulevard, or inside the sprawling master-planned Mesa del Sol community.
The City of Albuquerque has submitted a funding request to the New Mexico State Legislature for the project, which could cost upwards of $3 million.
That funding would also include land acquisition, and the planning, design, and construction of the facility.
The legislature is meeting in session until March 16.
By Garry Boulard
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