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Partnerships work best when all the parties involved share common interests. This holds true for neighbors, such as Los Alamos County and San Ildefonso Pueblo, especially when economic development is involved.
Late last week, the county council met with San Ildefonso Pueblo leaders in a joint council meeting at Fuller Lodge to discuss common interests.
The meeting was attended by all seven councilors, as well as the following pueblo leaders: Governor Leon T. Roybal, First Lt. Gov. Paul Rainbird, Second Lt. Gov. Terrence K. Garcia, Head Sheriff Bryan Montoya, Assistant Sheriff Garrett Pino, Head Fiscale Laurence Peña, Assistant Fiscale Paul Torres, Assistant Fiscale Thomas Gonzales, Head War Captain Gary Roybal and Second Assistant War Captain Marvin Martinez.
The meeting began and ended with an invocation and closing spoken in Tewa, by Roybal. Council Chair Michael Wheeler started off by saying that the county and the pueblo have had some difficulty in negotiating during the past six years.
“It’s about time we get together on a more regular basis,” he said.
Roybal agreed, saying, “You became our neighbors. It’s long overdue that we start helping each other out.” He also said the county and pueblo share a lot of mutual interests and they can help each other.
“A lot of our people have suffered since the ’40s. A lot of the things that were done then are getting down to our people now. We still claim this (land) as ours. We’re never going to let go, this is home to us. Our ancestors lived here long before we did. You might not see us but we still visit our shrines,” Roybal said. “Thank you for hosting this and letting us see eye to eye who we’re working with. We truly want to be friends.”
Both parties agreed that building a working relationship and establishing a friendship will take time. Roybal assured council that San Ildefonso is not a casino tribe, meaning it has no interest in building a casino on its land.
“We don’t want to go that route. There’s other avenues that we can go to make money for things we want to do and want to have,” Roybal said.
Some of those moneymaking ideas were shared with council during the meeting. Peña told council that the pueblo has an 18-acre parcel of land adjacent to White Rock that’s being developed for light industrial and retail use. He, however, declined to go into any specific information regarding what might go there.
“A lot of land the pueblo has is adjacent to White Rock. In the long run, it will benefit White Rock with bringing in people to White Rock. We hope to partner and develop and start looking at what we can do together,” he said.
Another project the pueblo is working on pertains to a “green” way to manage waste via a waste management facility.
The pueblo is trying to start a program called ZEROS, which helps communities operate efficiently, sustain good jobs and provide a measure of self-sufficiency, all the while working to eliminate, rather than maintain waste. If all works according to plan, the facility will consume the waste, with zero emissions.
“It’s in the development stages, but we’re looking to address the county’s needs,” Peña said.
In addition, the pueblo is planning an RV park adjacent to the Totavi gas station. The park would provide 75 sites and offer amenities such as a game room, pool and dog park. There will also be opportunities for users to stay long-term.
The park, however, would require utility hook-ups that the pueblo does not currently have. They would have to be tied into Los Alamos County’s utilities in order to be able to operate the facility.
The pueblo is also hoping to expand their Internet services. Tewa Communications currently provides broadband services to residents in Pojoaque, Española and other surrounding communities.
Pueblo leaders are hoping to bring the service to White Rock, which will give residents an alternative to Comcast and Qwest services.
Assistant County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro was also present at the meeting and gave a slideshow presentation, showing attendees what sorts of projects the county is working on.
Included in the slideshow were the Entrada project, Airport Basin project, Trinity Site project and the White Rock Master Plan project. Mortillaro gave a brief description of each project during the presentation and explained the progress and uses of each one.
Following the presentations, Wheeler told pueblo leaders that their plan looks good.
“Too bad the economy went bad. I’m a firm believer that the economy will come back. This is a pretty ambitious bunch of projects. We see this as an opportunity to see some complimentary development between White Rock and San Ildefonso,” he said.
Both sides agreed that meeting on an annual basis would benefit them.
“We need to meet face-to-face,” Councilor Vincent Chiravalle said, “I look forward to meeting on an annual basis. We need to remember we’re stewards of the land. There’s a lot we can do to help each other with economic development,” he said.
Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer said that building a relationship based on mutual respect and trust is what he hopes the pueblo and county can accomplish.
Both, county councilors and pueblo leaders made a motion to accept the joint resolution of the Pueblo of San Ildefonso and Los Alamos County concerning common interests.
After a vote on both sides, the motion passed unanimously, with all seven councilors and all pueblo leaders voting in favor of it.