Rio Rancho Observer
By Rio Rancho Observer
PUBLISHED: Dec 31, 2016

We extend our best wishes for a happy, prosperous New Year in 2017 and hope all of our readers have enjoyed a great, safe holiday.

As one might gather from our recap in today’s paper of some of the top stories in our area from last year, it’s been an interesting ride. 2017 promises no less.

Best of luck to our state lawmakers — especially our area’s delegation — as they head into the session in a few weeks faced with some big-time budget issues and difficult decisions to make about what our state’s priorities should be. Among the local new faces are District 10 Sen. Candace Gould and District 23 Rep. Daymon Ely.

The Sandoval County Commission embarks on the new year with three new members — Rio Ranchoans Jay Block and Dave Heil representing districts 2 and 4, and District 5’s F. Kenneth Eichwald of Cuba. It marks the first time Rio Rancho has had three representatives — District 3’s Don Chapman is the other — on the five-member board.

Some unfinished business for the commission looms, including consideration of an oil-and-gas ordinance that’s been in the works the past year since SandRidge Energy proposed drilling an exploratory well west of the city of Rio Rancho.

SandRidge, of course, withdrew its request for a zone change, but prudently, the county has carried on preparing the draft.

We look forward to see where the county will go next on the economic development front. Its focus on the topic spawned a study in 2014 that cited the need to create 18,000 jobs over the next decade to keep the county economically healthy, and also helped lead to the creation of the Sandoval Economic Alliance.

The City of Rio Rancho is a partner in this as well and our hope is 2017 will be a breakout year.

Not all was encouraging in 2016. What the future holds for the Intel plant isn’t publicly known. Hilltop and Country Club plazas lost major tenants in the past year in Hastings and Albertsons. Redevelopment of the old City Hall area hasn’t yet materialized. The community was struck a real blow with the reported closing of Club Rio Rancho.

But on the bright side, the city saw some large call centers move into Rio Rancho in 2016 and continues to see development in the Unser corridor and Enchanted Hills area.

One might argue about the effect impact fees have on the prospects for new development, but our hope is the Rio Rancho Governing Body adopts a fair, but competitive, rate in the near future.

Recent road projects have been inconvenient, to be sure, but we’re pleased with the progress the city has made with the Sara rehab, Broadmoor extension and Idalia reconstruction. We look forward to completion of the High Resort project.

The ball is rolling. We think it can be a good year.

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