Aztec draws nearly $40,000 grant to fund development of parks, trails master plan

State awards nearly $400,000 for five projects around New Mexico

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Aztec officials have secured a nearly $40,000 state grant to help put together a master plan to guide development of the city’s parks, trails, recreation facilities and open space for the next 20 years.

Officials with the New Mexico Economic Development Department announced March 14 that five communities or entities across the state had been awarded the Outdoor Recreation Trails + grants. Since 2019, when the program was created, more than $7 million has been awarded to 90 projects across the state, according to a news release announcing the most recent round of winners.

“We’re very excited, to tell you the truth,” Aztec City Manager Jeff Blackburn said about the grant. “We’ve been waiting a long time to develop a master plan to enhance our parks and trails. This will help us formalize that plan and seek more grants.”

More than $378,000 in funding was included in this round of grants, with $39,999 of that going to Aztec.

The City of Aztec has been awarded a state grant to help it put together a master plan that will guide development of its parks, trails and outdoors spaces for the next 20 years.

“Everyone deserves access to New Mexico’s greatest treasure — our great outdoors,” Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia Keyes stated in the news release. “Investing in outdoor access through infrastructure projects is sustainable economic development.”

Blackburn said Aztec officials already were planning on putting together a new master plan for the city’s parks, trails and outdoor spaces, and the City Commission had appropriated $50,000 for that project. Now, the city will have nearly twice that amount to complete the plan and begin implementing some of its recommendations.

Aztec City Manager Jeff Blackburn says the city likely will begin having public meetings at the end of this year or early next year to gather input for its new master plan for parks, trails and open spaces.

Several public meetings will be held to determine how Aztec citizens want to see that development proceed, but Blackburn said it already is clear that the city needs and wants to do more with its Animas River corridor. As an example, Blackburn said it makes sense for Aztec officials to work with their counterparts in Farmington to create an opportunity for uninterrupted rafting between the two cities.

The new master plan also likely will place an emphasis on an enhanced trails system, he said. Aztec has nine city parks, and it has access to 520 acres of Bureau of Land Management land that can be used for various recreational purposes, he said. There also is potential for increased opportunities in the motorsports field, he said.

Making better use of Aztec's Animas River corridor is likely to be a focus of the city's new master plan for parks, trails and outdoor spaces, City Manager Jeff Blackburn says.

Aztec will hire a firm to help it put together the master plan, then plan a series of public meetings at which residents will be invited to express their preferences for development. Blackburn said that process is likely to take some time.

“Later this year would be optimistic,” he said. “Next year would be a better focus time.”

Farmington’s San Juan College also was included in this round of grant awardees. The institution received $99,999 to design and construct a restroom facility at the mountain biking park it has planned for a 133-acre site at the corner of College Boulevard and East 30th Street just south of its main campus.

The other awardees were $99,999 to the Center of Excellence in Carlsbad for a project that will lead to road improvements, the development of picnic sites and other improvements in the Six Mile public day-use area along the Pecos River; $39,000 to the Center for Socially Sustainable Systems in Albuquerque for its Acequia Education Trails Project; and $99,999 to the Sydney Paul Gordon Shooting Range in Otero County, which will expand the capacity of the facility by adding a 100-yard, multipurpose shooting bay for advanced firearms courses and other events open to the public.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: