Sen. Morales and Rep. Dow shed some light on Fort Bayard

Danny Udero , Silver City Sun-News Sports Editor

SILVER CITY — New Mexico State Senator Howie Morales and Representative Rebecca Dow shed some light on the Fort Bayard site and what was going to happen with it this year.

According to Sen. Morales, a meeting with all the stakeholders was held last week and some discussion was had about the Village of Santa Clara receiving the land.

“The General Services Division wasn’t ready to move forward with it at this point and that halted the opportunity to do a joint resolution,” Sen. Morales said.

Sen. Morales stated he was prepared to draft legislation to give them the authority to begin to discuss this and he was hoping to do this but he didn’t realize that the General Services Division wasn’t going to be on board with the issue.

“We could still put a bill forward and have the governor sign it, but the likelihood of that happening and have the governor do that against the General Services Division is difficult,” Sen. Morales said.

Sen. Morales did say he thinks it’s premature to eliminate the discussion part of Santa Clara still getting the land and doing what they wanted to do with it.

“We had a late start, but I still think this gives us the opportunity to go forward to see what could be done,” Sen. Morales said.

Rep. Dow wasn’t at the meeting, but she has been checking in on the issue and discussing with the stakeholders what could be done.

“The General Services Division is really focused on waiting for a public-private partnership, and there are some efforts around this right now,” Rep. Dow said. “I am suggesting that they transfer a portion of the property – less than $100,000 – to start with and let the Village of Santa Clara demonstrate to the state what they are capable of doing. I think if they show the state and the people that they can do this it would be better for them.”

Rep. Dow stated that the state is already doing this and that they have transferred at least five visitor centers to municipalities to eliminate costs across the state.

“The state hasn’t done anything with Fort Bayard because they don’t have the money to do so,” Rep. Dow said. “That is the reason the area has been in decay for a long time. We are trying to tell the state that they don’t have to take this burden on. Release a portion of the property and let the Village of Santa Clara demonstrate what they can do with it.”

Rep. Dow stated that she thinks this could be done this year and that by transferring property less than $100,000 would eliminate a lot of red tape. If Santa Clara was willing to take a few buildings on at a time and do something with them, this would help bring the discussion back to the table of showing the state and other people just what they could do.

“There will be more discussion about this in the coming weeks,” Rep. Dow said. “We hope we are able to do something about this now.”