Public Safety Pleas Dominate Naranjo’s Town Hall
Commissioner Alex Naranjo, joined by Sheriff James Lujan, Planning and Zoning Director Lucia Sanchez, Public Works Director Napoleon Garcia, and Capital Projects Director Jon Paul Romero, greeted 80 San Pedro/La Mesilla community members at the San Pedro Community Center Thursday night.
Naranjo, who has had multiple town halls throughout his commission district, was on hand to discuss future plans for the community center. Those improvements will include two gazebos, a walking trail, fire pits, and landscaping. Some residents were concerned about the City and County passing the buck on tree trimming on various roads throughout the San Pedro/La Mesilla area. Garcia, the Public Works Director, took down the various locations of concern and promised to follow-up within ten days. Naranjo cautioned residents and asked them for understanding if it was determined their road was not County owned and therefore could not be maintained by County staff.
From speed humps and speeding to drugs, public safety was front and center for the majority of the town hall. Naranjo was adamant that no new speed humps would be put in without the full support of the majority of neighbors it would affect. He went on to explain that the speed humps that have been placed on County roads will be properly marked and additional signs would be put up in the near future.
Sheriff Lujan had a serious message for residents of the area when it comes to crime. Although Lujan was proud to report increases to patrols in the area, he stressed the importance of residents forming a neighborhood watch to combat crime. He went on to explain that budget constraints have happened due to recent changes by the New Mexico Legislature to restrict police departments’ ability to immediately seize property after an arrest, even when the property being seized is stolen goods. Lujan expressed that the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association hopes to have that law overturned but that an organized neighborhood watch would help offset some shortcomings in the area.
Having to jump through complicated hoops to seize property might be a check and balance to the system some agree with but this, coupled with the fact that Governor Martinez decided in 2015 to cut the allotted $100,000 in funding to the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Department down to $50,000, has created an unnecessary burden on the department. This burden, is why residents are encouraged to get involved and alert police about any suspicious activity. For more information about how to get involved with a neighborhood watch in your area, contact the County Sheriff’s at 505.753.3329 or the Española Police Department at 505.747.6004.