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Bayard moves to adopt housing plan

The Bayard City Council met Monday night, moving to help future affordable housing projects and listening to a community group which has a plan to help improve the health and beauty of area communities through planting trees.

The council also heard from Priscilla Lucero, executive director of the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments, and voted to adopt the Grant County Affordable Housing Plan. In addition, they listened to a report on proposed work to be done in the coming years through the Southwest New Mexico Forestry Network, a program designed to add 1,000-plus trees to area communities.

The council also heard advice

from Lucero about how to streamline their state-mandated Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for the fiscal years 2025-29.

The move to adopt the Grant County Affordable Housing Plan was met with no opposition, and councilors all seemed to agree that the plan would help future housing improvements to move forward.

“The Mining District has been working collaboratively to try to figure out how we can do some projects for housing in these communities,” Lucero said. “There are dollars now at the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority to do these types of projects.”

She then went on to describe some programs that are already ongoing around the state to help “move the needle on housing” and help people with fixed incomes

find affordable places to live. Opportunities are now available to work with private-sector businesses like contractors and developers under a carve-out in state law.

“You can’t do that unless you have what we call an affordable housing plan,” Lucero said. “You can adopt the county affordable housing plan that will include the affordable housing component to it. Then you can adopt an ordinance to allow your local government to apply for funds and work toward working with entities to provide affordable housing within the community.

“Right now there’s additional money that has been awarded through New Mexico Finance Authority to do some other addition-

al housing initiatives, to be able to attract developers to come and do these types of housing units in rural communities,” she added.

After confirming that everyone on the council had read the resolution, Mayor Larry Ojinaga then put the matter up for a motion. Councilor Eloy Gonzales made the motion to adopt. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously, although Councilor Gilbert Ortiz was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The same process was followed for the motion to adopt the city of Bayard Affordable Housing Ordinance, which also passed unanimously.

The council also heard from some community organizations about the Southwest New Mexico Community Forestry Network.

“This is a five-year, $5 million grant that was awarded to Western New Mexico University along with my grant partners here, Allyson Siwik, director of GRIP, as well as Sarah Hurteau of Integrated Biological Solutions out of Albuquerque,” said Marivel Medel, project director of the Rural Southwest New Mexico Integrated Urban Forestry Project. “This five-year project funded by the USDA and the Forest Service is focused on tree equity, tree planting and engaging with our regional six communities, being Bayard, Hurley, Santa Clara, Lordsburg, Deming and Silver City, to plant trees to create community forestry networks.”

“We’re really excited to get started on this project with Western,” said Siwik, executive director of the Gila Resources Information Project. “The Forest Service is very interested in tree equity. Part of this project is going to planting 1,000 trees in the six communities and really making sure that everyone has a sufficient tree canopy. We are focused on disadvantaged communities to make sure that disadvantaged neighborhoods have sufficient trees to have access to all the benefits that trees provide, like shading, cooling, recreational benefit.

“We want input from the community about what are your priorities for trees, tree care, tree planting,” she continued. “We put all of this information into a plan to guide implementation over the next four years. We need to plant 1,000 trees and we also have in the budget money for tree giveaways, as well as tree care, tree pruning, safety pruning in parks, as well as irrigation, draining of stormwater but we obviously want to hear more for that.”

Sarah Hurteau of Integrated Biological Solutions then turned it over to the council to start the discussion of areas of the community that could benefit from the program. Councilors brought up areas that could benefit

from additional trees, including around the schools and parks in town.

Mayor Ojinaga pointed out that some of those areas, like the schools, aren’t city property.

“We are just getting started in this process,” Hurteau said. “We are starting with the council and then working to expand to other organizations within the community. I hope we will have the opportunity to come back and present on the progress as it goes forward.”

Mayor Ojinaga brought up the idea of putting trees around the Bayard Cemetery, which he said had already been tried. The city has had a struggle to get a water supply to care for them, however.

This spurred some discussion about updating the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan to include a water line to the cemetery.

The very start of the meeting was a work session where the board heard from Lucero about ways to streamline the project summary plan in the ICIP. Lucero provided the council with suggestions to combine some similar requests into a broader request, while rewording some things to allow for flexibility as the needs of the community change, deciding which of the requests should be considered the top five priorities.

Aaron Rogers may be reached at aaron@scdaily press.com.

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