New Rio Rancho City Manager Matt Geisel told the NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable meeting Thursday morning that his goals for the city are really simple: Make 2022 the best year in the city’s history, then make 2023 the best year in the city’s history and then make 2024 the best year in city history.

It may not be as easy, but he told the gathering of about five-dozen people at Premiere Cinemas in a 40-minute talk that for 2021 “from an economic standpoint, we’re riding a very good cycle.”

Geisel said 2022 will be a busy year, and that includes the municipal election March 1.

The election include has two city council races, plus District 2 Councilor Jeremy Lenentine is unopposed in the third seat coming up for re-election. Voters will also decide the fate of three bond issues – for public safety, roads and quality-of-life facilities – and six charter amendments.

Geisel detailed the advantages of voters approving a charter amendment that would establish a $10 million permanent fund. It would allow the city to pay for other projects in the future from the interest it generated, creating a new revenue stream.

Last known as a Mattress Firm store, this building was purchased by the City of Rio Rancho in the Plaza @ Enchanted Hills, and will be a combination library and community center. It will soon have amenities for residents, including two pickleball courts. Gary Herron photo.

Geisel touched upon strategic planning and three recent accomplishments credited to planning: opening the new Broadmoor Senior Center, opening Campus Park and establishing the Rio Rancho 101 Citizens’ Academy.

Long-range plans include updates to the sign ordinance and an impact-fee study.

Geisel said he is also looking ahead to reconstruction of Rainbow Boulevard, which he termed “the worst road in Rio Rancho,” from Southern Boulevard to Northern Boulevard, and improvements on Riverside Drive in River’s Edge 2.

Also in the works is a Veterans Administration National Veterans Cemetery in the Loma Barbon area off US 550, which would have a 150-year life span and be the final resting place for as many as 20,000 military veterans.

Earlier, attendees heard of how Rio Rancho’s residential growth surpassed Albuquerque’s — an 8 percent increase in building permits from 2020 to 2021 here, compared to 1 percent in the Duke City. They also learned about the rooftops going up and expected to go up soon in the Los Diamantes, Broadmoor Heights and a few other subdivisions, including a new 30-acre spread near Southern and Rainbow.

NAIOP’s chairman for 2022, Lance Sigmon, told the group how important it will be to make sure legislators in the coming session pass business-friendly legislation.

“Fortunately, Rio Rancho is in good shape,” he said, but “I want to make this a place where capital is welcome.”

Developer Pierre Amestoy, who heads Los Diamantes development, was given kudos for spending $6.5 million to pave Westside Boulevard west from its intersection with Unser Boulevard to 10th Street. The now-paved road not only makes travel to Joe Harris Elementary easy, but also will eventually connect with Los Diamantes Boulevard, providing access from the north.

The Feb. 3 Rio Rancho Roundtable session, a candidate forum, will be held at M’Tucci’s Moderno on Unser at 7:30 a.m.

About the author

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer