Collaboration plays role in development

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County council and San Ildefonso Pueblo discussed joint economic endeavors

By Kirsten Laskey

A number of joint projects to enhance economic development could be on the horizon between the San Ildefonso Pueblo and Los Alamos County.
Some opportunities to collaborate lie along N.M. 4.
Potential projects are being considered on land the tribe owns near the intersection of N.M.4 and Rover Boulevard, Tribal Attorney Peter Chestnut said during a recent joint meeting between the pueblo and county council. The project could be commercial or residential, or it could be related to the Los Alamos National Laboratory if federal funding is available.
Chestnut said the land might be used for affordable housing to support an influx of construction workers who might move to the area for LANL jobs.
He said a joint development may be possible because Los Alamos County utilities exist nearby and could serve the tract.
Council Chair Mike Wismer said the project would help achieve one of the county’s goals related to affordable housing.
Another possible collaborative effort is the land transfer between the county, pueblo and the U.S. Forest Service. Progress has been slow – the agreement was signed in 2004 and Congress approved it in 2006 – and it is still not completed. However, the first portion, which addresses the transfer of water in Rendija Canyon, should be completed soon. The overall plan also features an emergency evacuation route through Rendija Canyon.
Another project in the works is widening of N.M. 4 to respond to emergency situations.
The  Los Alamos County Council and the Tribal Council of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso met in November to discuss these potential economic projects.
 “We have worked hard for the past two years to establish a strong relationship with our friends and neighbors of the San Ildefonso Pueblo and the joint meeting that we held in November was a culmination of our efforts, collaboration on a number of different levels,” Wismer said.
“One of the key issues we discussed was the potential for future collaboration regarding economic development. And where the pueblo can be a benefit to us is to help provide the linkage for our workforce in terms of housing or in terms of providing a workforce for the service component that may evolve as the Trinity site develops or if the need for trades increases with the CMRR project.”
He added, “We hope to provide some of the workforce and possibly some of the housing, affordable housing units and possibly apartments along those lines. We are looking to future collaboration with the pueblo as we move forward and as the economy diversifies in around Northern New Mexico, Los Alamos and areas (near) to the pueblo.”   
Collaboration between entities in Northern New Mexico has had a lot of success. The $10.6 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will provide broadband services throughout the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is one success story.
“This is very complicated grant in itself,” said Barbara Deaux executive director of the North Central New Mexico Development District. “In order to create the publicly owned network, we had to get the cooperation of a number of government entities and to get that many units of government in a short period of time to agree on the collaborative effort was only the way to get it.
“We had the opportunity to create a partnership around something everybody needed and everybody understood we couldn’t have gotten it any other way.”
Not only did collaboration earn REDI the grant, but Deaux said high speed Internet will be offered at an inexpensive price. Therefore, she said creating this broadband infrastructure benefits not just local governments, but everyone.