State Engineer John D'Antonio and New Mexico Finance Authority Water Resources Director Michael Vonderheide testified yesterday to lawmakers over a request for $41.6 million in public water system upgrades ($TNM). The money includes $1.5 million to repair a conduit to the Nichols Dam, which, along with the McClure dam, supplies up to 50 percent of Santa Fe's annual water supply. Repairing Nichols will help prevent leaking or erosion, according to Rick Carpenter, the city's water resources and conservation director, who says, "It's not in imminent danger now … but eventually there could be structural failure of some sort."
Lay of the Land
Santa Fe's City Council's Finance Committee last night approved a proposal to end a 90-year lease agreement with Santa Fe Estates. A new deal would allow the city to reclaim the 250 acres in the northwest quadrant. District 1 City Councilor Signe Lindell says the plan could enable another place for developers to build affordable housing. Santa Fe Estates Board of Directors purportedly believes modifying the original agreement would be in its best interest as well: Santa Fe Estates would pay the city approximately $133,000 at closing for the property, which was recently appraised at about $2.4 million. The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Dec. 11.
Bump in the road
City of Santa Fe Engineering Division Director John Romero says speed bumps would never get approved if everyone who travels through a proposed area was consulted before they were installed ($TNM). Romero's pragmatism not withstanding, new speed bumps on Camino Francisca took residents of Zocalo Condominiums—situated at the end of Camino Francisca—by surprise. Or "blindsided" them, according to Zocola manager Erik Garcia. Romero says they weren't consulted because they don't live on the street, but at the end of it. Hugh Balaam, chairman of the Santa Fe Estates Neighborhood Association, initiated the speedbump request, he says, because "I had a number of residents that voiced that they'd almost gotten hit coming out of their driveway. Also, we don't have sidewalks on that street. People like to walk. If you've got traffic going at high speeds, it can be dangerous to pedestrians."
New Sandia leadership
James S. Peery will take over as the new director of Sandia National Laboratories at the beginning of next year, succeeding Stephen Younger, who is retiring. Peery currently serves as associate laboratory director of National Security Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Peery first worked at Sandia at the start of his career in 1990, and has left and returned twice, most recently in 2017. He also has held positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sandia is operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc. In a press release, Stevan Slijepcevic, chair of NTES and president of Honeywell, said Peery was unanimously chosen from more than 80 candidates nationwide.
Unearthing the past
A $200,000 US Bureau of Land Management grant will help scientists research artifacts from the Guadalupe Mountains. These will include ancient sandals and baskets, which the researchers plan to examine in comparison to those already in museum collections. They'll also use drone and photogrammetric mapping in two rock shelter sites, and have promised to exclude ceremonial artifacts from examination. "This study will ensure meaningful consultation with, and self-determination for, the Native American tribes who claim ancestry with the Guadalupe Mountain region," according to Robert Dello-Russo, of the University of New Mexico's Office of Contract Archaeology, who spearheaded the project with Alexander Kurota.
With flying colors
If you're planning to travel out of Albuquerque over the upcoming holidays, it may be worth scheduling some extra time in the Albuquerque International Sunport to check out the art. The Sunport was recently included in a top 10 roundup from the contemporary art magazine ArtDesk for its art collection, alongside airports in New York, Paris and Vancouver, among other cities. The Sunport was recognized for its 100-plus-item permanent collection, as well as its temporary exhibit on car culture in Northern New Mexico. Max Baptiste, the Sunport's art curator, described the Sunport to Channel 13 as "one of the best airports from an architectural standpoint, so it's already a beautiful airport, and to be able to add art and get it recognized is just a major honor."
Xerb and chill
Film buffs in search of better and less corporate options may want to check out local startup Xerb. The company was founded by 33-year-old Santa Fe native Eric Streep with an eye toward disrupting the Netflix distribution model and replacing it with human-curated streaming channels where users' fees directly benefit the creators. Santa Fe Film Festival is among the available channels, and will host a launch party from 5:30-8 pm on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Santa Fe Brewing Company.
The calm before the slightly less calm
Mostly sunny today with a high near 48. Mostly cloudy tonight, with a low around 27. Don't get overly attached to the dry sunny weather: Wednesday is predicted to be mostly cloudy, with a 60% chance of rain and show showers developing late Wednesday night (after 11 pm), with a small (40%) chance of rain continuing into Thursday morning.