Bond issue providing $7 million in funding for San Juan College projects passes easily

Mountain bike park improvements, new physical plant in college's future

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • With more than 35,000 votes counted, the yes side earned 59% of the vote, compared to 41% for the no side.
  • The bond issue includes $500,000 for infrastructure improvements at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall and the Connie Gotsch Theatre.
  • It also features $400,000 for the installation of retractable bleachers at the college’s Health and Human Performance Center.

FARMINGTON — The San Juan College campus will be a busy place in the summer of 2023, as a bond issue that will provide $7 million for the institution to complete a variety of projects, including a mountain biking park and a new physical plant, rolled to a comfortable victory in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results.

With more than 35,000 votes counted, the yes side earned 59% of the vote, compared to 41% for the no side. That worked out to a victory of more than 6,000 votes.

“I’m very pleased,” the college’s vice president for administrative services, Ed DesPlas, said late Tuesday. “I am incredibly pleased by the show of support that San Juan County citizens, voters have shown for the college.”

DesPlas noted the college is always looking to do what it can for the county, and county voters repaid the favor by supporting a bond issue that will have an enormous impact on the school’s campus. It will provide $500,000 for improvements to a mountain biking park on 133 acres of land the college owns at the northwest corner of East 30th Street and College Avenue. It also will provide money for the relocation and construction of the college’s aging physical plant, which carries the biggest price tag of the four projects included in the bond issue at $5.5 million. The existing plant dates to 1978, and college officials have said it would cost more to repair it than build a new one.

San Juan College will receive $500,000 in funding for improvements to its mountain biking park after voters approved a $7 million bond package on Tuesday.

The bond issue also includes $500,000 for infrastructure improvements at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall and the Connie Gotsch Theatre, and $400,000 for the installation of retractable bleachers at the college’s Health and Human Performance Center.

“When the citizens turn out the way they did (Tuesday) for us, it makes everything worthwhile,” DesPlas said.

DesPlas said he had a good feeling about how the vote was going to go headed into the election, but he knew better than to count it as a sure thing, given concerns over the economy. Ultimately, he needn’t have worried, as support for the proposal was strong, and the outcome of the vote was never really in doubt as returns began to come in.

“ … For that, I’m grateful,” he said. “I know everybody at San Juan College will be grateful for the support. It’s really reflective of the county’s value in what we do.”

San Juan College officials expect work on improvements to the institution's mountain biking park and other projects funded by a $7 million bond issue to begin in the second half of 2023.

DesPlas said college officials would begin talking to their financial advisers immediately about moving forward with the projects, as well as preparing for a new financial review. He said the bonds likely would be going out for sale in middle to late spring, allowing work on most of the projects to begin by summer.

The design for the bike park additions could take a little longer, and the design for the new physical plant could take even more time, he noted. But the addition of the bleachers at the Health and Human Performance Center and the improvements planned for the two theaters should be accomplished quickly, he said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 ormeasterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.