Aztec looks to develop outdoor recreation economy with possible capital outlay request
FARMINGTON — The City of Aztec may ask the state for funding to build an outdoor retail and manufacturing center in Riverside Park.
The City Commission will discuss this proposal during a special meeting Jan. 29 at Aztec City Hall, 201 W. Chaco St. The meeting will be after a work session that will start at 5:30 p.m.
City Manager Steve Mueller said this is different than the unsuccessful business incubator the city started a few years ago. The business incubator was focused on helping entrepreneurs start up a business by providing classes and temporary office or retail space. Unlike that endeavor, the city would be looking for long-time tenants for the outdoor retail and manufacturing center.
Mueller said this idea came from Mayor Victor Snover, who has supported the regional efforts to build an outdoor recreation economy in San Juan County.
“It’s no secret that the power plant is scheduled to close,” Snover said. “Oil and gas opportunities are not as plentiful as they once were.”
He said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been working to develop outdoor recreation in the state and Aztec should position itself to get in on the ground level.
Snover acknowledged that there is an effort to keep the San Juan Generating Station open with a carbon capture retrofit, and the city has issued a letter of support for a carbon storage study related to that effort. However, he said even if the power plant stays open the city should try to capitalize on every opportunity it has, including its untapped potential for outdoor recreation.
Mueller said the idea also fits in with the regional efforts to promote outdoor recreation.
“Yes, it would specifically be located in Aztec, but we would hope it would help San Juan County as a whole,” Mueller said.
The special meeting will allow the City Commission to hammer out some of the specifics prior to submitting the capital outlay funding request. Currently, Mueller said Aztec is looking at asking for $6 million for a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot facility that would house a couple of manufacturers as well as several retail spaces. All of the tenants must be outdoor recreation related businesses, such as making rafts or selling bicycles.
Mueller said the city is considering building the center in the large dirt parking lot on the north end of Riverside Park near the irrigation ditch.
Aztec has had several capital outlay requests granted in the past few years, including funding for the North Main Avenue extension project and for the East Aztec Arterial Route. Mueller said the funding requests can be competitive because entities throughout the state are looking at the same pot of money. However, he is hopeful that the city’s past success will continue this year.
The deadline for capital outlay requests is 5 p.m. Feb. 2.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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