By a vote of 3-1 at a special meeting of the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education on Sept. 5, the school district traded a piece of property estimated at 1.45 acres and valued at $250,000 to the city of Rio Rancho for a 6.1574-acre site valued at about $500,000.

Board member Gary Tripp voted “nay,” while board member Jessica Tyler, whose husband Bob is on the Rio Rancho Governing Body, abstained. Each entity filed a quit claim deed to its trading partner, which guaranteed taxes have been paid up. The state Board of Finance will consider approval of the transaction before it is finalized.

The school district, which has been mulling new sites for Cyber Academy and Independence High School, may ultimately build one of those schools on its newest piece of land, 4531 Northern Blvd., just north of Ontario Place NE.

RRPS Communications Director Wyndham Kemsley said the land traded by the district is at 1930 Cabezon Blvd. (14th Avenue SE) and Veranda Road. The other includes the site that was originally Ernest Stapleton Elementary and later Shining Stars Preschool, which the district had been leasing from the city.

“Our plan (for the latter site) would be to construct a multi-generational community and recreational center, to potentially include basketball courts, rooms/spaces for fitness, multi-purpose uses, diverse programming etc.,” explained City Manager Matt Geisel. “This concept was highlighted in the June work session as part of the Facilities Master Plan. Timing and funding is TBD. We hope to initiate preliminary design in (the first or second quarter of Fiscal Year 2024).”

As for the site at Veranda and 14th, Geisel said the city has plans to “construct a new fire station at that Veranda Road location, just south of Maggie Cordova Elementary, in the coming years.

“At this time, timing and funding is still (to be determined); however, by securing the property, it will allow us to start the planning process for design, cost estimates, funding, and in turn, timing.”

The station would be just north of the growing Los Diamantes area, not far from the Unser Gateway, and thus have the possibility of receiving a lot of calls for assistance.
To be designated as Station 8, city staff presented an initial update at a June 8 work session, highlighting Station 8 on the city’s long-range master plan.