Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rancho Magdalena Airport Access Denied

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – A proposal by Rancho Magdalena to allow direct access to the municipal airport was rejected by the Village Board of Trustees Monday night.
The request, in the form of a memorandum of understanding, submitted to the Board for approval, stated that a “permittee” would pay the Village $300 a year to have private access to the airport.
Trustee Diane Allen asked if there was a potential problem of other property owners in building their own hangars and wanting private access. “Is there a conflict there?” Allen said.
Mayor Sandy Julian said that allowing a private gate to Rancho Magdalena might open the door to other property owners adjacent to the airport wanting their own access.
“The request said that the access would only be used in an emergency,” Julian said. “But how do we know there’s an emergency? He (Lee Scholes) said it would only be used if his private runway was snowed in or too muddy, and that he would use the airport access only for non-commercial use.”
Marshal Larry Cearley said that since Sept. 11, 2001 the federal law restricts use of municipal airports.
“Under the Department of Homeland Security, the airport has to be secure,” Cearley said. “By allowing someone to taxi onto the airport would violate federal law.”
Deputy Clerk Carlene Gomez said the allowing the opening would also “raise our insurance.”
“There are several issues with this, but basically Homeland Security requires airports to be closed,” Cearley said.
The Board voted to deny the request.
In other business:
• Julian said the village needed a committee to advise the Board of Trustees on how to spend Lodgers Tax money. “I can start picking out so many people, from businesses and one local person, and you can decide who will be chosen for or the advisory board,” Julian told the trustees. “They can advise us, but this board is still in charge. It’s a state statute that we have to have this.”
• Allen recommended that each department head receive a quarterly statement of expenditures and balances. “Just to see where they’re at, where they’ve been,” Allen said. “I went through and looked at the utility costs for both electricity and propane. The budget is tight and it will be getting tighter next year, and everyone should begin ready to conserve.”
• The Board tabled a request by Donna Todd for $800 in Lodger’s Tax money.
• The Board tabled a request by Cearley to purchase three bullet proof vests for the Marshal’s office.
•The Board tabled a request by Donna Dawson to make improvements to the rodeo grounds in time for Old Timers Weekend. Dawson said improvements included a new barbecue pit with fencing, repairing of metal sheeting and boards on the back of the grandstand, removing barrier pipes in front of the Spanish Village section, repairing or replacing doors and windows, as well as the swamp cooler at the arts and crafts building. “Old Timers is willing to do some of it but we can’t do all of it,” Dawson said.
• The Board delayed action on a request for Lodger’s Tax money by Heather Kresser of the Magdalena Trail Drivers, who is hosting the Single Action Society’s New Mexico State Championship to be held on private property owned by Rancho Magdalena. Kresser said they are expecting up to 120 shooters and their families for the event Sept. 17-19. Julian said she supported the request but recommended delaying any decision by the Board until the proposed Lodger’s Tax advisory board can consider it. “I had thought this was a private event, but I learned that the public is invited to come out,” Julian said.
•A recommendation was made by Dr. Eileen Comstock that the village needs to recruit more volunteers for EMT positions. “The people working there now are doing as good a job as possibly be expected,” Comstock said. “They are doing well, but the EMS needs more people. You’ll have a burn out factor with only two or three answering all calls.” She recommended that notices be posted that the village is looking for more volunteers.

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