MediaRRObserverState of the City

Aquifer and housing are focus in 2017

Completing a multi-million gallon aquifer injection program and pushing for more housing developments will be key this year for Rio Rancho, Mayor Gregg Hull said Thursday.

Hull gave a presentation about the city’s past year and its goals for 2017 last week, as the guest speaker at the monthly NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable meeting at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center.

Hull said 2016 was a big year for economic development, housing development and infrastructure projects for Rio Rancho. Hull cited last year’s news that PCM and Safelite AutoGlass would each operate call centers in Rio Rancho as highlights of 2016, saying both companies will bring a combined 1,100 new jobs and $34.5 million annual payroll to the area. Additionally, Hull recognized the openings of a number of franchise stores, including Ross, Taco Cabana, PetSmart and Christian Brothers Automotive.

Alongside commercial growth, Hull said 2016 saw more than 500 homes constructed in Rio Rancho – making it the city’s best year for housing development since 2009, he said.

This year, Hull said the city will push for further commercial and housing development, highlighting a new medical center opening in the Unser Gateway.

“We also have Los Diamontes still in the process; we’re seeing a huge amount of activity happening around that project that will bring on 600-plus new homes and a commercial park,” Hull said.

Water and water infrastructure projects will remain as important to the city as they were last year, Hull said. In 2016, approximately 1,000 water service lines were replaced. This year, Hull said the city will focus on the rebuild of Wastewater Treatment Plant 1, saying the project is in its design phase and expected to begin construction in the spring.

The city’s aquifer injection program is expected to debut this year, following nearly a year of construction. The $5.6 million project would store recycled water in a two-million-gallon concrete tank before being transferred to a building with advanced water treatment equipment. The treated water would then be injected via pump down an injection well in the city’s aquifer.

Hull said the program would help save the city water and money.

“By putting it into the ground, we’re able to bank it a gallon for a gallon, so in the future when we’re ready to pull that out, it doesn’t require pumping permits so we don’t have to obtain additional water rights to pick it back out,” Hull said.

Last year saw a surge of road projects completed — Idalia Road received a $7.5 million reconstruction project; Grande Boulevard, Meadowlark Lane, Ridgecrest Drive and Ridgeway Drive received improvements; and Broadmoor Boulevard was extended between Linderhoff Avenue and Paseo del Volcan. Voters also passed a $9 million road repair bond, funding road rehab projects for High Resort Boulevard, expected to be completed in April, and Sara Road, completed in December.

Hull said he’s already looking ahead to 2018, saying he hopes residents will vote in favor of another road bond.

No tax requirement would be needed if the 2018 bond is passed, said city spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia in an email following the meeting.

“What this means to the homeowner with a $100,000 worth of value, the $9 million bond is $7.30 (more) on your property taxes. Realistically, when you think about that investment and what we’ve been doing with these roads, we want to keep up that progress because keeping our roads clean and beautiful and well-maintained also adds value to the community,” Hull said.

FROM ANTONIO SANCHEZ | OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
ORIGINAL ARTICLE