Farmington residents speak out against proposal to consolidate museums
The Farmington Indian Center and the E3 Children's Museum could be consolidated with other city programs
FARMINGTON — The City of Farmington is looking at ways to reduce spending by consolidating services, but not everyone is happy with the proposals.
“Every program that we have is the most important program to somebody,” said Councilor Sean Sharer. “Every facility that we have is the most important facility for somebody.”
Sharer said one of the facilities he values in the city is the E3 Children’s Museum and Science Center, which gives his daughter an interactive learning environment.
The preliminary budget presented May 14 to the Farmington City Council proposes consolidating the children’s museum with the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.
Looking forward: City Council discusses plans for Gateway Park
However, Sharer said Farmington Museum at Gateway Park may not be the best home for the children’s museum. He said Farmington Museum does not have the space for all of the activities the children’s museum offers, and not all of the Farmington Museum patrons would appreciate having noisy children playing while they view exhibits.
In addition, Sharer said there are safety concerns because Farmington Museum at Gateway Park is located next to the Animas River and the back doors that lead to the river are not locked during business hours.
Nearly half a dozen Farmington residents expressed opposition to moving the children’s museum to the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.
Christine Wood said the children’s museum gave her an affordable place to take her 10 children, including foster children.
“We need those types of places for our families,” she said.
Catalina Liles said she opposes having the children’s museum consolidated with the Farmington Museum. She echoed Sharer’s concerns about children impacting museum patrons’ experiences, safety for children and not having enough room for the children’s museum.
“Both facilities will suffer if we do this,” Liles said.
Farmington Indian Center could consolidate with senior center
Another facility that could be consolidated with another location is the Farmington Indian Center. The budget proposes moving the staff and services from the Farmington Indian Center to the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center. The restaurant services currently offered by the Farmington Indian Center would be eliminated.
“What Farmington Indian Center has become is a segregated place where less Native Americans are provided services,” City Manager Rob Mayes said. “There are far more Native Americans getting services at our other facilities integrated into our community like we would want it. Far more Native Americans get services every day at the senior center than at the Indian Center.”
He said the Indian Center’s mission is cultural enrichment, and that mission will continue at the senior center.
Nageezi resident Etta Arviso said the Farmington Indian Center is an important asset for the Native American community in and around Farmington.
“A lot of our people don’t have running water and electricity,” she said.
Arviso said the Farmington Indian Center is more than just a place for the Native American community to gather. She said it provides a warm shower for those people who don’t have access to utilities.
According to city documents, operating expenses at the Farmington Indian Center in Fiscal Year 2019 were about $145,000, and the city also spent $228,000 on personnel costs like wages and benefits. Meanwhile operating expenses at the children’s museum were $35,800 and personnel costs were nearly $67,000.
Farmington hopes to reduce number of buildings needing maintenance
The city is looking to consolidate services to reduce the number of buildings it must maintain, repair and upgrade. Farmington has more than 250 city-owned buildings. Over the past decade, the city has deferred maintenance on many of these buildings. This has created more expensive repairs and potentially dangerous situations.
Mayes used the Farmington Aquatic Center as an example. The city knew for years that the roof needed to be replaced. Mayes said the city was fortunate the workers didn’t fall through the roof when they went to replace it.
The budget calls for $301.8 million of expenditures in Fiscal Year 2020. In comparison, the preliminary budget presented a year ago called for $287.1 million of expenditures and the preliminary Fiscal Year 2018 budget projected spending $289.3 million. The city's public budget presentations can be viewed online at fmtn.org.
While there were rumors that Lions Pool and the Farmington Recreation Center would be closed due to budget cuts, Mayor Nate Duckett said those rumors are not true and he does not know how they started.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.