Thursday, March 19, 2009

ABQ Journal Reports Sunland Park Land Purchase is Dead

Rene Romo reports in the Albuquerque Journal today that the 22-acre land purchase using a $2.85 million loan from Stan Fulton will not take place. Romo quotes Angelica Marquez, a city councilor who usually votes with the mayor, as saying, "It was not conducted the way it was supposed to be done, so it's off," prior to a city council meeting on Tuesday, which was not attended by Mayor Martin Resendiz. The deal appeared to be in trouble after a March 5 emergency meeting was called by Resendiz, to cinch the deal, but only one council member and Resendiz showed up, preventing a vote.

Even as the deal fizzled out, more questions about it surfaced. Romo reports that on March 5 Resendiz said the loan would be paid off with revenue bonds financed by racetrack fees, channeled from the county fair to Sunland Park. But Diana Alba reported in the Sun News on March 18 that Frank Coppler, the attorney for Sunland Park, had said the city would pay for the loan using franchise fees from the Camino Real Landfill, and that in a previous interview Resendiz had declined to state the source of the funding for the bond.

If indeed the purchase had been financed with landfill franchise fees this would have posed a potential political problem and conflict of interest, inasmuch as the landfill is extremely unpopular among many residents of Sunland Park, and, in effect, the land transaction would have placed the landfill and the city in a partnership. Last fall the New Mexico Environment Department granted the landfill only a one-year extension on their operating contract, and will review it again this year. If the city were dependent on landfill franchise fees to pay back the loan, this would have made it more difficult for the city to argue against extending the contract for another ten years.

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