Commentary: Is Farmington really the 2nd worst place in America to raise children?
‘City of Farmington’ confused with ‘Farmington MSA’
Last week a media source called “24/7 Wall St” released a report labeling “Farmington, NM the second worst city in America to raise children.” This representation is at best misleading, at worst deceitful. Regardless, it is poor journalism because it portrays an erroneous and incomplete set of facts for the reader.
24/7 Wall St. stated, “To identify the ‘25 worst US cities to raise a child,’ 24/7 Wall St. created an index composed of violent crimes, quality of the school district and the share of the population with access to areas for physical activity, like parks and recreation centers”.
It is not unusual to read reports of this type — both good and bad — ranking “Farmington.” There will be more in the future. However, in almost all cases, these reports are not compiling data directly or exclusively pertaining to the “City of Farmington”.
"Farmington" is designated by the federal government as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This means our extended geographical area has a population exceeding 50,000 — in our case about 130,000. There are only four MSA in the State of New Mexico — Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, and Farmington.
The “Farmington MSA” is 5538 square miles in size — by comparison, equal to the entire State of Connecticut. This extended area encompasses all of San Juan County, including the unincorporated, rural, and undeveloped areas. It includes all the other incorporated towns and cities and expansive remote areas of the Navajo Nation nearly 90 miles away. These reports take statistics from this entire area and average them together into one giant pot and call it “Farmington.”
A positive benefit, the “Farmington MSA” has national exposure to selection for economic, commercial, and retail development. Negatively, these reports typically do not make it clear they are considering the entire “MSA,” leaving readers to assume the statistics pertain exclusively to the incorporated “City of Farmington.”
The City of Farmington and our immediate surrounding communities are an outstanding place to live and to raise children. The City of Farmington Parks System is nationally recognized — if not renowned — for its readily available recreational opportunities. The City of Farmington offers 1,819 acres of developed park space, 34 sports fields and 25 tennis courts. Not to mention 2 golf courses, a children’s museum, a river trail system, a recreational lake with a beach, 2 community recreation centers, 2 indoor aquatic facilities and a new $6 million water park under development to replace Brookside Pool.
We have a Library boasting over 1 million books read in the children’s summer reading programs and named the best library in New Mexico by the Huffington Post. Our Boys & Girls Club is thriving and we are expanding the facility. The Farmington Municipal Schools have just recently been lauded as some of the best performing schools in our state with 80 percent having an A or B rating.
San Juan College serves more than 15,000 students annually while offering hundreds of degree and certificate programs.
The City of Farmington is not perfect. We are, however, an exceptional community with outstanding people and vast opportunities. Whether you are raising children or not, and regardless of your age, Farmington is great place to live, work, and play.