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City purchases building to expand Community of Hope

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The Las Cruces City Council voted unanimously at its March 2 regular meeting to spend $1.32 million from the city’s Telshor Fund to purchase 2.21 acres of land at 991 W. Amador Ave. The property, the current home of Horse ‘n Hound, will be added to the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) campus that is located just to the south of the property being purchased.

The property at 991 W. Amador Ave. includes an 8,621 square-foot retail building and an 8,406 square-foot warehouse, according to city documents. 991 W. Amador Ave. is currently occupied by Horse N Hound Feed N Supply. Owner Curtis Creighton said he plans to move the business to a new location, but the new location has not yet been finalized.

Casa de Peregrinos (CdP) emergency food program Executive Director Lorenzo Alba said CdP will move into the newly purchased property, which will expand CdP’s size from its current 4,000 square feet and will allow for additional days of service, serving about 30,000 people throughout Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. The move will also make room for additional staff, more storage for food rescued from local grocery stores as well as food from area farmers, add a teaching kitchen to help CdP clients learn how to cook the food they receive and office space for other agencies whose services would benefit CdP clients.

“This is a super exciting time for us, because we see what is happening in our community and we want to do more,” Alba said.

Alba thanked state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Doña Ana, who was instrumental, along with state Rep. Nathan Small, D-Doña Ana, in securing additional state capital outlay funding to help pay for the MVCH and CdP expansion.

CdP’s food program provided 3.8 million pounds of food in 2019, according to the annual report that CdP released in mid-February. That’s an increase from 3.5 million pounds in 2018. Last year’s food provided almost 3.2 million meals and was valued at $6.5 million, he said.

“We are excited about the move for CdP and what it means for those accessing the services there,” said MVCH Executive Director Nicole Martinez. “Each of the agencies on MVCH campus is trying to be strategic in how to expand services to meet the increasing needs of those in our community and we are grateful that the City of Las Cruces responded to this need. As the Community of Hope continues to implement and grow services relating to shelter, housing and income for those experiencing homelessness, having the ability to utilize more space once CdP relocates will be crucial to offering services in a safe and efficient manner.

The Telshor Fund was created by the council in October 2004 with proceeds from the pre-paid lease of Memorial Medical Center to Providence Healthcare Company, according to city documents. The fund is currently in excess of $40 million, said interim City Manager Bill Studer.

Also at the March 2 council meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve:

• A resolution adopting a Public Art Master Plan that will “provide guidance to ensure sustainable funding sources for public art, make the most of the city’s resources and ensure that the city’s public art activities make an impact and respond to the community’s needs,” according to city documents. The plan “includes guidance on public art acquisition, maintenance recommendations, mission and vision statements, funding sources (and) to provide a framework and guide the city Art Board, city staff and anyone interested in collaborating with the city on public art.”

• An ordinance establishing four city policy-review committees (PRCs): 1) health; 2) housing; 3) quality of life; and 4) transportation, sustainability and infrastructure. The council previously voted to establish the Economic Development Policy Review Committee. Each PRC will consist of three current city council members, plus “at least four but no more than seven subject-matter experts, community members or invited guests as ex-officio members for fact-finding and advisory purposes,” according to city documents. “The purpose of each PRC is to formulate recommendations to the city council on specific issues or subject areas that have direct community-wide impact.” PRCs are advisory in nature, according to the city ordinance, and “are not authorized to act or make any decision on behalf of the City Council.”

• Changing city ordinance to allow the operation of off-highway vehicles on roadways controlled by the city. Each vehicle and driver must comply with specific provisions to make the vehicles “street legal,” including provisions of the state Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act. The general purpose of the ordinance is to allow the operators of off-highway vehicles to travel on city roadways to travel to and from their off-road destinations and related events. The change will be effective March 13.