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Columbus NM seeks funds for community center, drainage projects

The second council meeting of Mayor Esequiel Salas’s administration went more smoothly than the first.

Compared to the March 21 meeting, which packed the Ruth Coleman Memorial Complex in the border village of Columbus as local residents heckled trustees and Mayor Salas over the firing of two village staffers, the special meeting on Tuesday evening was attended by just five non-staff members and proceeded in regular order.

Village trustees moved forward on pursuing a Community Development Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by selecting a priority project for the grant application.

Trustees unanimously selected phase 2 of renovations on the multi-use community center on N. Boundary St.

Ahead of the vote, Trustee Paulino Villegas noted that the community center project was shovel-ready and the first phase was complete. “We’ve already started that,” he said. “Something I would like to see is something we actually finish.”

Trustees also approved action pursuing a planning and design grant for water and sewer line improvements.

Storm drainage hits snag

Another shovel-ready option, passed over for the time being, was phase 3 of a multi-use drainage project channeling stormwater that flows across the village from the Tres Hermanas mountains.

That project has hit a snag, as it was reported that the New Mexico Department of Transportation is balking at helping fund construction of the third phase.

Because the previous construction began upstream and worked down, the infrastructure in place creates a risk of flooding on NM-11 unless the third phase is completed.

Mayor Salas resolved to continue negotiating with DOT and consulting with Luna County to secure funding for the third phase.

MORE: Census shows Luna County population falling

Trustees selected their priority from a list of projects assembled with public input from three community meetings that took place on March 29. Salas described attendance at the meetings as “the best turnout that I have seen in the last four years,” with up to 15 at each.

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