Farmington City Council accepts donation of Tibbetts land to create all-abilities park

The New Mexico Board of Finance is required to approve the donation

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Students in the San Juan College Fire Science Program take a run around the track on Aug. 24 at the old Tibbetts Middle School property. Farmington schools is donating the property to the City of Farmington.
  • The Farmington City Council approved the donation agreement for the 7.65-acre site along East Apache Street during a Aug. 24 meeting from Farmington Municipal Schools to the municipality.
  • The property housed the original Farmington High School.
  • The multi-million-dollar project had its funding approved for the conceptual design, according to a Farmington Schools and City of Farmington joint press release.

FARMINGTON — The multi-year effort to build an all-abilities park in Farmington took some big steps forward after Farmington Municipal Schools leaders voted to donate the old Tibbetts Middle School property to the City of Farmington.

Fundraising efforts by a non-profit park foundation are underway and money has been secured through a grant for design work to begin.

The Farmington City Council approved the donation agreement for the 7.65-acre site during a Aug. 24 meeting between Farmington Municipal Schools and the municipality, according to City of Farmington spokesperson Georgette Allen.

The Farmington Municipal Schools Board of Education voted to donate the property during an Aug. 19 board meeting.

Farmington school board member Keith Corley told The Daily Times he’s glad to see the city and school district come together toward making this park a reality.

“I personally am excited. I have a grandson who’s autistic,” Corley said. “The all-abilities park is just going to make Farmington better.”

Donated property secured

The property along East Apache Street between North Dustin Avenue and North Butler Avenue had its main structure demolished in Fall 2017.

Most of the nearly 90,000-square-foot building was demolished except the Emma Weaver library, two classrooms and restrooms.  

The property housed the original Farmington High School.

It also hosted the first group of San Juan College's students, when the college was originally founded as the San Juan branch of New Mexico State University.

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The discussion of using the property for an all-abilities park started to surface around August 2018, when Farmington schools took the property off the market after hearing pleas from the community.

Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt previously told The Daily Times that the City of Farmington asked the district to leave the property including the track facilities for use by the public.

The Farmington City Council during a Sept. 10, 2019, meeting heard a presentation about the topic as the councilors voiced their overwhelmingly support for the idea, according to The Daily Times archives.

The transfer of the property will be complete after the New Mexico Board of Finance approves the transaction at a future meeting.

MORE: Old Tibbetts Middle School property no longer up for sale

Design process to begin

The multi-million-dollar project had its funding approved for the conceptual design, according to a Farmington Municipal Schools and City of Farmington joint press release.

The city’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs department was awarded $300,000 as part of a National Recreation and Park Association Resilient Park Access grant. The grant will cover the cost of the construction design documents.

The Tibbetts All Ability Park Foundation, Inc. is focused on raising funds for the park.

Marylin Montoya, vice president of the foundation, told The Daily Times a small group of people came together about four years ago and it spawned an effort to bring this type of park to Farmington.

Jesse Lopez, left, and his mother Nikki Marks, sit on the grass on Aug. 24 on the old Tibbetts Middle School property in Farmington. The land is being donated to the City of Farmington to build an all-abilities park.

The proposed project would focus on a number of amenities including accessible and inclusive play equipment, an activity/play area which has special surfacing and perimeter fencing along with wheelchair/adaptive swings and a sensory play area.

The structure on the property could house programming options, including pediatric and elderly integration programs, therapy training along with wheelchair assessments and mobility trips for schools, therapy dogs and nursing homes.

MORE: Farmington council ponders creation of all-abilities park

Montoya said none of the 58 parks within the City of Farmington currently do not have an “adaptable element” for those six-years-old and older.

The 25 parks that have an adaptable element only have a swing for children between two and five-years-old, Montoya said.

She hopes the foundation can work with the city officials to make the park the best it can be.

Those interested in making a contribution to the project, they can contact Montoya with the foundation at 505-330-4811 or at taapnm@gmail.com

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

More:Old Tibbetts Middle School property up for sale

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