BERNALILLO  — The public works director was in the spotlight for the majority of Thursday night’s 40-minute Sandoval County Commission meeting.

Commissioners approved the 2021 Sandoval County Road Inventory and a contract for over $91,400 to repair the Old Courthouse in Bernalillo.

Roads removed from the inventory can be placed back on the list as long as the county gets the right of way before the end of next week, said Public Works Director Mark Hatzenbuhler. The director wanted to make this clear because two roads in Placitas were removed from the inventory: Calle del Norte and Llano del Norte.

“This year we had a few roads that we couldn’t find right of way on or documentation, so we had sent out letters to the residents on those roads,” Hatzenbuhler said.

Sandoval County maintains over 1,100 miles of road, according to the inventory. Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, District 5, said he had concerns over Camino Olivas, a road in his district.

“Some of the families that are on that road donated materials like gravel, not only for that road but other county roads. And years ago, it was a handshake and that’s the way they did things, and so that road needs to be looked at again. And I want to make sure we keep that road on our radar to make sure it goes back on county inventory,” he said.

Eichwald said it should be a commission decision when roads are removed from inventory because the commission approves roads being placed on the inventory.

“We are the ones that are being ‘shot at’ by these people. They are constituents, and they want to know why these roads are getting removed, and they want justification as to what is going on,” he said.

County Manager Wayne Johnson said he is working to improve the process by sending letters to residents on roads set for removal from the inventory.

Katherine Bruch.
Courtesy photo.

Commissioner Katherine Bruch, District 1, said she would like the county to better document the process because documents of roads on the inventory came from residents in her district, which includes Placitas.

“If we remove roads like this without doing everything we need to be doing, it is going to affect the property values and we are going to have a whole lot more people very upset, so we want to make sure we really follow our own process,” she said.

Hatzenbuhler said the Old Courthouse in Bernalillo is not up to code and will need electrical upgrades. The courthouse was built in the early 1900s and has undergone several expansions and renovations, according to county documents.

Funding for the upgrades came from capital outlay funds and was awarded to Bixby Electric.

Improvements to the building have begun; Hatzenbuhler does not know when they will be completed.

The next county commission meeting April 1 will be lived streamed at sandovalcountynm.gov.

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer