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Friday, June 19, 2015

Defending De La Cruz; BernCo Commissioner In A Sizzling Summer, Plus: A Cause For Coss And Rejuvenating ABQ 

Nobody took more summer heat this past week than Dem BernCo Commissioner Art De La Cruz. His decision to again vote with the two GOP county commissioners to approve the controversial westside Santolina development project launched a sizzling debate, especially in De La Cruz's semi-rural South Valley district. He endured a public scorching that rivaled the 100 degree weather.

While Art may feel alone in his own backyard he does have his Dem defenders. Let's turn the podium over to one of them to see if we can bring Art's temperature down:

Joe, sometimes real leadership comes in doing what is right not what is popular. The westside has struggled for quality employment and planned development. Doing nothing and expecting things to change is folly. Do we know that Santolina will be successful in bringing new employment to the area> No. But we do know that doing nothing, as the opponents want, will just result in the westside stagnating and being red lined by lending institutions as it has in the past. I admire Commissioner De La Cruz for making a hard political decision and deciding to do what is right for the community. If Santolina fails it won't be for lack of effort from the commission and it deserves an opportunity to succeed. We need jobs and economic development in New Mexico and especially on the westside of Bernalillo County.

And how about the commission race next year to succeed De La Cruz who is term limited? Well, that could be a summer sizzler come Dem primary day next June. We blogged of the candidacy of progressive Dem Adrián Pedroza. Now a Valley Alligator reports:

There is another potential candidate not yet announced that is looking at the seat. It is none other than "Gomie" from the hit TV show filmed in Albuquerque and school board member Steven Michael Quezada. He clearly would be among the front-runners and be able to raise considerable funds. We're also hearing that APS board member Analee Maestas is getting ready to get into the race. Stay tuned.

Stay tuned? We're all ears on that one.

CAUSE FOR COSS

Th Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club reports:

At its June meeting, the  Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter elected former Santa Fe mayor David Coss as chapter chair.  During his 25-year career in natural-resources management and environmental protection, including at the Environment Department and state Land Office, Coss worked in water quality, watershed restoration and air quality. As a Santa Fe city councilor and mayor, he led successful efforts to adopt the city’s green building code. . .

REJUVENATING ABQ

The blight produced in ABQ by the Great Recession even found its way into the city's more affluent neighborhoods, including Four Hills and its shopping center at Tramway and Central. The mall has been in disrepair for years but is now seeing new life as developers bring in a movie theatre complex as well as a new grocery store. The Four Hills Country Club is also seeing a rebirth after nearly going out of existence.

A recent drive though the area shows homes behind the shopping center and near the country club remain in good shape. The affluence is not perhaps as great as it once was, given the quiet but persistent federal budget cuts that fuel so many high income ABQ households. The less wealthy neighborhoods around the area took an even bigger hit during the long downturn.

It will take a $5 million investment by the developers to restore the shopping center and that is well underway with the recent opening of the new Four Hills ICON Cinema. We sent local film reviewer Eric Lucero out for a look:

ICON Cinemas is just what the doctor ordered after a long decline that included the Four Hills Village Shopping Center. It was built in 1983 and two years ago purchased by the Daskalos Family. The old theatre complex was bought and re-developed by the Snell Family of Clovis. 

The Four Hills ICON Cinema sports ten new screens that offer clear and sharp images. Each auditorium has most seating devoted to oversized and almost fully reclining chairs that I found super-comfortable. The remaining seats offer the “VIB” experience--built-in, vibrating speakers that mimic the soundtracks. While watching “San Andreas” (*** Stars out of Five) while in a “VIB” padded chair, I felt that I was in an actual earthquake. I saw “Jurassic World” (***1/2 stars) in ‘VIB’ and 3D format. It was a real blast!

There is  “all-you-can-eat popcorn and soda re-fills.” All seating is reserved which means you can select your movie and seat ahead of time, arrive late and still be assured your seat is waiting. There is a video and games arcade off of the main lobby and the parking lot is secured and patrolled. The experience is designed to make you want to come back--and you will.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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