RIO GRANDE COUNTY — After several conversations, the Rio Grande County Board of County Commissioners has decided to pursue the potential purchase of a 30-acre parcel of land near the Kent Rominger Airport located north of Del Norte.
Though the process to purchase the land is in the beginning stages, the board has agreed to do more research on what it would take to purchase the land and to look at potential funding options.
Rio Grande County Attorney Nany Lake said, “The property in question has a lot of infrastructure and water availability that makes it very attractive to Rio Grande County for future development as an industrial park for services to the airport. It is approved for purchase at an enticing price and has been under consideration for several years. The timing (with a new plan for the airport being drafted currently) and the availability of the property just seems right.”
Lake added that the county finance department is looking into the possibility of using American Rescue Plan funds for the purchase because it falls under the water infrastructure portion of the approved funding use recommendations, though a final decision remains undecided at this time.
One concern raised by commissioners during discussion pertaining to purchasing the land was how much water can be pumped by the current well — about 15 gallons per minute — which wouldn’t be sufficient for industrial use. Another concern was that the land was currently zoned as residential by the Rio Grande County Assessor's Office.
Rio Grande County Administrator Craig Barraclough said that some of the potential benefits of purchasing the property include it being a location for a new jail.
“My understanding is that the main value of the property is the existing water well and electric power already installed at these parcels," he said. "Possible uses I've heard is for an industrial park or even a new jail. Benefits, of course, being an increase in the tax base, and that if it was used for an industrial area, it would be away from residential areas; and the benefit from the area being a site for a new jail would be that it's more secure than a residential area.”
Commissioners discussed the land purchase in an executive session on Dec. 8 and decided to do more research pertaining to funding options.
Rio Grande County Commissioners recently honored county employees Louise Colville and Valarie Maestas for their years of service. Colville is the Director of the Rio Grande County Museum and has been with the county for over 11 years. Maestas works in the Department of Social Services and has been with the county for 15 years.