Taos News hon­ors un­sung heroes

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA -

For the 18th year, The Taos News hon­ored a group of vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity lead­ers who en­deavor to make life bet­ter for ev­ery­one in Taos County. These Un­sung Heroes are women and men from a va­ri­ety of back­grounds and skills. They were se­lected by a com­mit­tee of ci­ti­zens, not by Taos News staff.

We are pleased to honor Un­sung Heroes Jill Cline, An­gel Reyes, Janet Webb, Ge­orge and Lu­cille Jaramillo, Fran­cisco “Cisco” Gue­vara, The Rev. Dea­con Don­ald Martinez, Lt. An­drew Montoya, Jesse Martinez and Polly Raye.

Fran­cis Cor­dova, co-founder of Taos Feeds Taos and a long­time ad­vo­cate for veter­ans, was named Cit­i­zen of the Year. Read more about all of the heroes in our spe­cial sec­tions in this week’s The Taos News.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the Un­sung Heroes and to our Cit­i­zen of the Year Cor­dova. You in­spire us all.

Re­defin­ing a park

In the last cou­ple of years, Kit Car­son has be­come a fa­vorite for big con­certs and events, such as Dwight Yokum and the Meow Wolf Taos Vor­tex. The park played host to an event al­most ev­ery week­end through the sum­mer. While the qual­ity of those events is great, this is a good time for the town to take a step back and cal­cu­late both the ben­e­fits – and costs – to the park.

Kit Car­son Park sits in the heart of Taos. The beloved 20-acre bit of green has long been a fa­vorite with lo­cal fam­i­lies and vis­i­tors.

Town of­fi­cials need to con­sider care­fully what is hap­pen­ing to the park and the im­pact on sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

We’re not say­ing what’s hap­pen­ing is bad. We are say­ing the town needs some ex­cep­tional plan­ning to en­sure the park serves ev­ery­one – from con­cert fans to el­derly strollers – and isn’t loved to death.

In 2018, the town of Taos ap­proved a draft Taos Parks Mas­ter Plan af­ter meet­ing with com­mu­nity groups and re­ceiv­ing 762 re­sponses on a sur­vey. Of those who re­sponded, a whop­ping 83 per­cent said they used Kit Car­son Park more than the other three parks. That same sur­vey didn’t put a per­for­mance space, like the new con­cert stage, at the top of a pri­or­ity list.

For such a small park, it has a va­ri­ety of ameni­ties set up: play­ground, base­ball field, bas­ket­ball courts, small per­ma­nent stage and larger tem­po­rary stage. Dur­ing the sum­mer, which should be the height of the park’s beauty for those strolling through it, much of the park is now sur­rounded by an eye-sore: a chain-link fence used to con­trol crowds dur­ing the nu­mer­ous week­end events. And be­cause it is in the heart of Taos, it also at­tracts a fair share of va­grants, home­less peo­ple and those in­tent on deal­ing and us­ing drugs.

Ques­tions the town and the com­mu­nity need to con­sider now af­ter a cou­ple of years ex­pe­ri­ence with these large events:

• Is Kit Car­son Park the most ap­pro­pri­ate venue for large con­certs?

• Is there a bet­ter lo­ca­tion, one where the town and county, and per­haps UNM-Taos, could join forces to raise funds and build a state-of-the-art per­for­mance am­phithe­ater? Why not con­sider the Rodeo Grounds, al­ready de­vel­oped for crowds?

• If Kit Car­son is the best spot, how can the town en­sure the events don’t ruin the park? If so, what are the plans for in­stalling a per­ma­nent large stage and de­sign­ing the area in front to ac­com­mo­date large crowds of peo­ple? How can the fenc­ing be im­proved?

The town needs to en­sure event pro­mot­ers sign agree­ments that spell out their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties more clearly. It needs to have a method for track­ing the fi­nan­cial and so­cial costs ver­sus ben­e­fits of the con­certs. Is the town re­ceiv­ing any money from these events to­ward up­keep of the park?

The town should put up a kiosk with in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing plans for the park based on the 2017 Taos Parks Mas­ter Plan. The kiosk can dis­play in­for­ma­tion about the town’s pri­or­i­ties for the park.

The town should con­sider at­trac­tive and glare-free light­ing in the park that stays on later in the sum­mer dur­ing week­nights, en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to come out and use the park more for recre­ation and less for drug deal­ing. This has worked in other towns and cities.

Staff needs to look at the health of the park’s trees and shrubs. A sum­mer of drought and heavy use is most likely com­pact­ing the soil, caus­ing pos­si­bly fa­tal dam­age to the plants’ roots.

The com­mu­nity can do things to help, such as form­ing a Friends of Kit Car­son Park group to host reg­u­lar vol­un­teer cleanup days, to plant and care for land­scap­ing and to act as a kind of neigh­bor­hood watch group to en­sure safety at the park.

Kit Car­son should be the town’s crown jewel of parks even as it hosts big events.

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