Town gives green light to Kit Carson repairs on walking paths

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 8/8/19

The town of Taos Council held a special meeting Monday (Aug. 5) to vote on several projects including airport runway repairs and new sidewalks at Kit Carson …

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Town gives green light to Kit Carson repairs on walking paths

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The town of Taos Council held a special meeting Monday (Aug. 5) to vote on several projects including airport runway repairs and new sidewalks at Kit Carson Park

Airport: The council approved a $266,000 construction project to repair and improve the runway at the Taos Regional Airport. Funds for the projects are primarily thanks to a Federal Aviation Administration grant and the town will match that with $13,316 for the project.

Kit Carson Park: Projects at the town's downtown park were the subject of some controversy in the council chambers as members of the public and council raised questions about the future work.

Town officials voted to approve contracts with A & S Construction to update both the curb area of the stage and the walking paths of the park. Each contract costs over $50,000 and are for similar scopes of work, according to councilor Pascualito Maestas.

"It feels like one contract split in two - that way we can not put this out to bid," Maestas said.

Maestas, and some members of the public, were concerned over the town's contract due to the New Mexico state procurement policy that allows for an approval of a project that costs under the $60,000 mark without going out to bid. The state of New Mexico requires three pricing quotes from contractors before signing off on projects that cost more than $60,000.

According to town manager Rick Bellis, the town of Taos' purchase procurement policies are more strict than the state and require three bids for projects that cost less than $60,000.

In order to avoid having to seek bids, which would slow down the park repair projects, the town was asking to use the state's less restrictive procurement policy.

Bellis said the town had funds left over from last year specifically for the park improvements and hoped to complete the repair of the walking paths in the park.

"The work that is being proposed is falling in line with the Parks Master Plan that was to upgrade the walking paths to ADA quality," said town facilities director Mitch Miller.

"This could be the opportune time to do it," Miller said.

Walking and jogging paths are the first topics in the Kit Carson section of the Parks Master Plan. The plan was developed over the course of several community meetings with public input regarding solutions and goals for parks in Taos.

Members of the public spoke out against the work in the park and also spoke out on the use of the park as the main concert venue in the town.

"It's not a place you want to walk the dogs through any more," said Larry Adams about the condition of the park. "It's time for everything regarding the park to become more transparent."

Adams said he lives near the park and disapproves of the town's dealings of the contracts. He said more discussion was needed for the events before approving them.

Both of the contracts were approved unanimously by the council with the condition that the contractor finish a current job on Gusdorf Road prior to the completion of the Kit Carson Park updates.

Councilor Darien Fernandez reaffirmed his support for the park and the concerts during the meeting.

"I want to make clear: I have been very much in support of bringing concerts downtown," Fernandez said. "At the end of the day, the park is a public space. It belongs to everyone and it's meant to be used for a variety of purposes."

Town officials have said the walking paths are in need of repairs and were waiting for either funds or grants to be made available to be able to complete the construction.

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