A pack of lawmakers is seeking an $800,000 grant from the state of New Mexico for a Route 66 visitors center on the east end of Albuquerque.
A couple of sharp-eyed readers saw the line item in the long list of capital-outlays requests by the New Mexico Legislature. You can see the listing on the first page here.
Rhonda Methvin, special projects manager for the City of Albuquerque, said sponsors of the line item were state Reps. Tom Anderson, Eleanor Chavez, Miguel P. Garcia, and Antonio Maestas, and state Sens. Eric G. Griego, Timothy M. Keller, Linda M. Lopez, Gerald Oritz y Pino, Bernadette M. Sanchez, and Sander Rue.
Contacted by email, Maestas said he surmised the Route 66 visitors center would be on the east edge of town, near where Central Avenue rejoins Interstate 40. He was the structure would “probably” be a new building.
Deborah Nason, public information officer for the city, said she had no solid knowledge about the visitors center, but heard the South West Alliance of Neighbors, a coalition of neighborhood associations in Albuquerque, may have requested the funds for that purpose. Emails to the group had not be returned as of Monday night.
Heidi Warren, an manager’s assistant for Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, said she had no knowledge of the project.
Upon initially hearing about this proposal, I had hoped the proposal would be used to re-purpose the historic but nonoperating El Vado Motel. However, that Route 66 landmark is located in the center of town. It doe s mark more sense to place a Route 66 visitors center on the east end. More than 60 percent of Route 66 travelers are coming from the east.
The New Mexico Legislature passed the capital-outlays bill, but Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed to veto any line item she deemed as pork. The current print edition of the Guadalupe County Communicator, based in Santa Rosa, listed a number of Albuquerque projects that Martinez said she’d veto, but the visitors center was not one of them.
The City of Santa Rosa also has requested $325,000 to renovate and reuse the historic Ilfeld Warehouse. City officials want to use the warehouse for a Route 66 museum.