Friday, October 16, 2009

Capital Projects in the Parks

Tierra de Suenos neighborhood park received some recent upgrades thanks to City crews in October. The park now has a basketball court and new landscaping. In addition, a pathway was paved from the road to the playground, pavilion, and basketball court, to allow access for all patrons. I would like to thank to all the City crews who put in time on this project: the water shop ran the reclaimed system piping for irrigation; the streets division laid asphalt for the paved trail; and the parks division added the basketball paving and hoop, and new landscaping. It was a great team effort.

This summer a new picnic area was established in a pocket park on the north side of Panorama Blvd. This project is also due to the work of the parks and the streets divisions.

Balloon Fiesta Park planning is now complete and the construction phase is beginning. The area at LaVelle Road has been cleared. This will become a 20-acre park, available to residents year-round, and the home base for our annual balloon fiesta starting next September. The construction phase will include irrigation piping, balloon launch pads, access roads and parking, utility installation to provide potable water and electricity for vendors, and a runway for remote control planes. Grass seed should be planted next spring, and the field will be irrigated with our reclaimed water system. The park will also feature a multi-use trail around the perimeter.

Friday, October 2, 2009

City of Alamogordo Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2009/2010

The fiscal year 2010 Budget was developed during one of the most challenging economic times in the history of the United States. The downturn in the national economy affected our key source of revenue, the Gross Receipts Tax. The Gross Receipts Tax is economically sensitive, which means it historically declines when the economy is in a downturn. Last fiscal year we had a substantial decline on our collections of Gross Receipt Tax of approximately $756,000, compared to the prior year (FY08). For the current fiscal year (2010), we projected a zero percent (0%) growth over the prior year collections. In addition, property tax is expected to be stagnant, with no increase in growth due to flat valuations and a projected decrease in new construction due to the restrictive credit market.

The long term water needs of the community continue to be a major focus of the City of Alamogordo. Staff has been working very hard to improve well production by updating equipment and re-drilling several existing wells. In addition, improvements were made to the mountain surface flow collection system in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Fresnal to improve capacity. Repairs were made to the covers at the La Luz Reservoirs that were damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. The New Mexico Court of Appeals determination of the District Court ruling on the water rights allocation at the new well field north of town (also known as Snake tank) and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are scheduled to be completed this fiscal year. The short term prognosis for water this year is good, the forecast is for a wet winter, the reservoirs are full, the well fields are rested, and as discussed, improvements to existing wells have been completed.

The largest capital project in the history of the City of Alamogordo is taking place this fiscal year. A total of thirteen (13) streets are being reconstructed. The street reconstruction includes water and sewer line replacement as well as ADA improvements. These major capital projects are funded by the 2004 ¼% and 2008 ¼% Gross Receipts Tax dedicated for street maintenance and street capital improvements.

The recommended budget represents reductions in expenses; staff reductions, service cutbacks, operating capital reductions and the reorganization of functions within departments. City employees and departments are called upon to do more with less. The recommended budget has placed a freeze on sixteen (16) full time positions, and seven (7) part-time positions, for a total savings of $688,096.

The City Commission and City Staff will continue to plan and work as efficiently as possible to continue to provide the quality programs and services the citizens of Alamogordo currently enjoy.

Respectively Submitted:

Matt Mc Neile, Interim City Manager

Monday, August 10, 2009

Safe Routes to School Committee

On August 5, as the sun was rising, Safe Routes to School Committee members were busy painting the curb on Alaska Avenue in front of Sacramento Elementary school. Painters included City staff, a DPS officer, Otero PATH staff, and Otero Walkability Advocacy Group board members. The Safe Routes to School program is funded through the Department of Transportation. The City is the fiscal agent for this current planning grant, and Sacramento Elementary is the partner school. The City will be able to apply for more funding to improve infrastructure in that area once the Action Plan phase is completed.
The curbs are now painted: green for drop off / pick up only, which changes the old pattern that allowed prolonged parking; red for a fire zone which means no parking at any time; blue for a handicapped student drop off/ pick up area only; and yellow at the crosswalk areas. Yellow also indicates no parking and caution for pedestrians. This new pattern is intended to improve traffic flow and get rid of any street parking in front of Sacramento school, which can cause a dangerous situation during the hgh traffic of school start and end times.
Committee members will work with Sacramento school faculty to implement an education campaign about the new traffic flow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Otter Arrives from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

Summer is the perfect time to bring family and visitors for a picnic, or leisurely stroll in the
shade, at the zoo. We have special surprises in store for you if you haven’t visited us recently. Anna now shares her large exhibit and two-tiered swimming pool with Charlie, our new North American River Otter; and they are getting along famously. They are the same age, and Charlie was rescued, like Anna.

He was sent to us because we had ample room for him, and in the hopes that they might mate.
In the past, river otters lived along the Rio Grande riparian zone in New Mexico, but hunting
and habitat encroachment depleted their numbers in the southwest United States. Conservation
efforts are being made to stabilize populations. In some wild river areas of New Mexico they are now being reintroduced. The zookeepers are proud to have these otters in their care, here on exhibit at the Alameda Park Zoo. These two are very playful and they like to show off for visitors.

The photo above shows Charlie and Anna
playing underwater.

In the wild: North American river
otters build their homes, or dens, in
burrows left by other aquatic mammals
or in natural hollows along river banks.
Dens have underwater entrances and a
tunnel leading to a nest chamber that
is lined for warmth and comfort with
leaves, grass, moss, bark, and hair.
River otters can make a variety of
noises to communicate.