Farmington to consider lake recreation plan

Dan Schwartz

FARMINGTON — Farmington’s parks and recreation director is scheduled to present a plan to City Council Tuesday evening intended to encourage more people to use Farmington Lake.

Jim Lujan, of Farmington, waits for a fish to bite on May 4 at the dock at Farmington Lake.

It calls for building a running trail around the lake, adding 50 to 100 camping spots, constructing a boat house for rentals and building out a sandy beach where people can run into the water, among other projects.

City code currently bans swimming in the lake, but Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Cory Styron said he will recommend councilors change the ordinance to allow swimming in some of it.

“We have this blank canvas of recreational activity in our community,” he said.

Carrying out the plan could cost between $10 million and $15 million, most of the expense related to paving and laying down utilities, he said.

Rihanna Jaramillo performs a cartwheel July 10, 2015 along the shore of Farmington Lake.

But there is interest, he said. More than 1,100 people visited the lake between May and late September when the city opened it to non-motorized recreation, he said. Many residents also told the city they want more recreation at the lake in a survey officials conducted in 2014.

Councilor Nate Duckett, who asked Styron to look at ways to expand use of the lake, said he wants the city to lift the ban on swimming. People are already doing it, he said.

The lake could draw people from around the Four Corners, he said. Navajo Lake, about an hour away, and Vallecito Lake in Colorado allow boats with motors, but because Farmington Lake doesn’t, he said, the city has a niche.

“You could have mountain bike rentals there,” he said. “You could have off-road vehicle rentals there.”

If tourism increased, new businesses might be more likely to open near the lake, he said. And at a time when people are battling for their jobs, the city needs to grab people’s attention and say, “Farmington’s a place to be,” he said.

“We all recognize that times aren’t easy right now, and we need to be smart about where we put our money,” he said.

But the Farmington Lake projects, he said, are worth a serious look.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.