A worker puts finishing touches on landscaping around the Sky Room at the new Campus Park at the end of June. The City of Rio Rancho already has a number of events planned to take place at the park. Argen Marie Duncan photo.

Timing is everything, it’s been said, and thus having Rio Rancho’s new Campus Park as the topic of the NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable Zoom meeting this month fit that bill.
It’s part of a strategic plan, aimed at making City Center and all that’s around it — including the iconic Sky Room at Campus Park — a quality-of-life asset.
Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull and City Manager Matt Geisel were the featured speakers, live at the new park during the virtual meeting.
Phase 1 of Campus Park, officially opened and enjoyed by more than a thousand folks July 4, was a $3.34 million project and encompasses about 5.5 acres of what was once an auxiliary parking lot for the Rio Rancho Events Center, known at its October 2003 opening as Santa Ana Star Center.
One by one, the neighboring buildings sprang to life: City Hall, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Rio Rancho campus, Central New Mexico Community College, HP and the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center. Those facilities are joined now by the nearly completed $3.4 million, 5,000-square-foot Broadmoor Senior Center and the $20 million UNM Center of Excellence for Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, just east of SRMC and expected to be completed this fall.
In the plans are the extension of Broadmoor Boulevard, the paved portion of which ends at the new senior center, to the northern portion of City Center and a walking trail, linking the senior center with those other buildings and Campus Park.
The intent behind the projects and phases, Hull said, is to “create connectivity” and provide the city with a cultural identity. The second and third phases, as Campus Park is enlarged, could include a dog park and a playground, with Hull seeking community input before any final decisions are made.
Sure, the city doesn’t have a plaza like Albuquerque, Taos and Las Vegas, but Campus Park will be the place for residents to gather to relax and enjoy events. Hull said he’s already been contacted by folks inquiring about having weddings and birthday parties there — “a tidal wave of ideas,” he said.
“There will be a lot of activity in this space,” Hull said, and here’s what’s on the docket so far:
• Aug. 28: Mayor’s Gala, with the 1980s theme “Have a Blast in the Past,” coinciding with the city’s 40th anniversary of incorporation. This event, with a dinner and a dance, benefits the Rio Rancho Community Foundation.
• Oct. 16: First Mayor’s Fall Festival Funday.
• Dec. 4: Holiday tree lighting.
Also announced by City Hall was the resumption of two popular series, Movies under the Stars and Music in the Park, both free. Although more details will be forthcoming, here are the schedules:

Movies under the Stars
• Aug. 13: “Big Hero 6”
• Sept. 17: “Jurassic Park”
• Oct. 15: “Coco”

Music in the Park
• July 31: Paul Pino and The Tone Daddies
• Sept. 25: Alchemie
• Oct. 23: TBA

Live music begins at 6 p.m. and movies begin at dusk, weather permitting.

Bringing blankets, folding chairs and picnic baskets is encouraged, with food vendors nearby. On-site restrooms are available.

Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted.

If there is inclement weather, the event will be canceled one hour prior to the start. Movies and music are subject to change.

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer