City council ponders leash law; hedges on mixed martial arts at Finley
The Socorro city council meeting of Monday, August 17th, heard testimony from several concerned citizens about problems with unleashed pets doing "their business" on public property such as parks, medians, and the plaza. They argued that Socorro's current pet ordinances are insufficient to prevent such problems because there are loopholes which allow for unleashed pets. The proponents suggested that pets should be leashed - by law - to prevent pets from running wild and unsupervised, both to limit the risk to private citizens and property, and to protect the pets themselves from car traffic and other hazards. The citizens suggested that pet owners be required by law to clean up after their animals, which is not currently the case. The council seemed willing to consider new ordinances on the matter, and Mayor Bhasker proposed that the council draft something for consideration at future meetings.
Socorro-based mixed martial arts promoter, Joel Partridge, and his business partner Mr. Saavedra of Southwest Promotions, once again addressed the council in an attempt to get permission to use Finley Gym as a venue for mixed martial arts bouts. Mayor Bhasker read a statement from Socorro's city attorney, Jerry Armijo, which raised concerns about liability issues, and voiced his personal opinion that there were too many unanswered questions at this point for him to support the use of city property for such events. Other council members once again voiced support for the idea - in concept - but suggested that the proposed mid-September timeframe was too soon for the city to have all of its questions answered.
Mr. Partridge reiterated his willingness to work with the council and meet any requirements that the city has, but Mayor Bhasker admitted that, as of now, the city does not have a checklist of things needed in order for outside parties to use city property. Mayor Bhasker offered that the city would begin looking into what might be required to host such events, with an eye towards making such a checklist, in consultation with attorney Jerry Armijo. So, for Mr. Partridge and Mr. Saavedra, it was neither a definite yes nor a definite no on the question of using Finley Gym.
In other council business, the mayor announced that much of the funding for the first phase of the project to provide sewer connections to households not currently not on city utilities was acquired from outside sources such as federal stimulus money and other grants. Of the approximate $1.5 million that is needed for the first phase of the project, the city is only on the hook for about $132,000 which will be a loan amortized over 15 or 20 years. The mayor suggested that of the remaining $132,000 that the people who are getting new connections will bear the brunt, if not the entire, costs, but that they should remain affordable due to the grants that were acquired. The sewer connection project is a multiple phase process, with several different areas in and around Socorro needing to be transitioned to city sewer hookups; it is expected that additional funds will be needed for subsequent phases of the project.
Further council business included County Commissioner Jay Santillanes noting that the pilot project for arsenic removal is slated to start in the coming month, with the equipment already beginning to arrive in Socorro. In other business, council member Olguin presented the recreation committee's recommendation for the city to hire a "recreation director" to organize and direct recreational facilities and activities for the city. Council member Monette stated that the budget committee concurred with the need for such a position. Councilman Ernest Pargas noted that such a person would be well suited to address the question of a checklist for use of city facilities, which was discussed in the deliberations over the use of Finley Gym by the mixed martial arts promoters. Other topics included upcoming hearings on a police oversight commission - see our separate story for the details of these hearings.