I’ve lived on the south side for the past 20 years. I love my home, and pretty much everything I do is on the south side: shopping, restaurants, we have it all. I have started to hear a lot of talk lately about the “open space” on South Meadows. I was a bit curious and somewhat confused. I take South Meadows Road and Rufina Street on my way to and from work every day. Surely, that big lot of cactus and shrubs could not be what they were making such a fuss over.

I love hiking. I often hike Winsor Trail in the spring and summer. I enjoy a day out at Tent Rocks about once a season as well. We are fortunate to have so much beauty surrounding us here in Santa Fe. A simple 20-plus-minute drive gets us somewhere out in the open. True open space — not surrounded by buildings or homes.

I’m thinking opponents of the housing development on South Meadows have open space mixed up with parks? I love parks, and we have some nice parks as well. I am fond of SWAN Park and miss the concert series from a few years back. Parks are what we could use more of in our neighborhoods. A park has grass, trees and tables where you can sit and enjoy a picnic. Ideally, there are some sports elements as well: basketball, baseball, or swings and slides for the kids to play on. A park offers something for everyone to enjoy.

The patch of dirt on South Meadows doesn’t really fit either definition. If it’s supposed to be some open area for the community to enjoy (and protect), then why is it all fenced off? There is a chain-link fence along the entire side of South Meadows keeping people out. Bordering the other three sides are houses and an abandoned business. So, I would not classify this area as something special. It’s a dirt field. And here on the south side, we have a plethora of dirt fields.

We had a dirt field at the end of Paseo del Sol — now it has an Auto Zone, McDonald’s, Mexican restaurant and a Pizza 9. It offers businesses that supply jobs and a place to stop by on the way home to get a new windshield wiper (just did that the other day). We had a dirt field down the way on Airport Road; soon we’ll have an awesome new El Paisano Supermarket. Looking forward to shopping there as well.

If you ask me, the one thing we have plenty of on the south side are empty dirt lots to explore. Can Airport Road support a lot of new businesses and all the traffic they may bring? Perhaps not. However, I would counter, the folks going to these businesses are all on the south side already, stopping at them on the way home. So not more traffic, just more choice — on the south side.

Something else is in the news these days — homes. Where are the affordable homes? Heck, where are there homes for someone to buy? Moreover, the south side is where we need them most. We have more kids and families on the south side and many schools. Too many apartments and not enough affordable homes for folks to buy. Are the opponents against affordable housing?

So, if someone is proposing turning a dirt field that is currently fenced off into a park with access to all, count me in. If they also are going to build some more affordable homes on top of that? I’m all for it.

Ken Brown has lived in Santa Fe for the past 30 years, enjoying the beauty of the nature and hikes that surround us. He’s been a proud Tierra Contenta resident for 20 years. He works at Homewise in outreach and education.

(68) comments

Paul White

unitedsantafe.org

Paul White

The City of SF will be working on a Growth Management Plan. Our organization, United Communities of Santa Fe is planning on putting a coalition of communities together to inform and involve constituents in the process and to have ongoing dialogs with City officials. Please consider signing up as a coalition member or just stay informed here: untedsantafe.org

Susan Vrabel

I have lived in this neighborhood and this house for 30 years and yes everyone can have an opinion. Just a reminder everything started as a piece of dirt. It’s what you make of it and how you use it that makes a difference. A piece of dirt to build a playground, a business or in this case an open space. Yes, this piece of dirt has brought the community in neighborhood together, made friends, and helped our neighbors. I have seen quail rabbits coyotes squirrels road runners and so many birds it is hard to keep up. I’ve seen kids riding their bikes, I have seen parents walking their children and walking their pets and people out just walking and enjoying the day. I have seen my neighbors watching fireworks, watching sunrises and sunsets on this piece of dirt. I personally use the space to walk my pets, to just relax and enjoy the Santa Fe. I am not against making Santa Fe a better place. I am only wishing that those that do not live here in this community understand how the community feels.

Susan

Victor Lioce

Funny how those who work for Homewise get to post articles supporting their “opinions” without disclosure that they are part of Homewise. Why do you think this happens? Could it be Homewise CAN NOT FIND SUPPORT FOR THEIR PROJECT EXCEPT FROM THEIR EMPLOYEES AND REALTIES WHO WILL COMMISSION OUT?

Santa Fe County Taxed our local District to buy this property for the Tax Payers in the Agua Fria Southside. Now, because the property is worth much more than the Tax Payers paid for the land, AND, because the County fell through on their Bond Obligation to actually turn the 22.2 acres into the Park they proposed IN THE BOND, they consider their failure to act as a reason to sell! This isn’t a reason, ITS A FAILURE! And the County Attorney seems to be offering excuses as reasons for the County to sell the land. Could it be the County SPENT the money to develop the PARK, AS PART IF THE BOND ISSUE? Could it be they didn’t finish the park because they screwed up and Line Item Transferred the BOND MONEY TO IMPROVE THE PARK BECAUSE THEY “JUST FORGOT ABOUT IT?”

Is the County going to reimburse the tax payers from whom they took the Bond Money? Doesn’t seem so. Seems the County doesn’t find that necessary. Instead, they want to take the PROFITS from selling the Open Space land we PAID FOR WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS, and buy land in another County Taxing District, WITH THE MONEY FROM OUR LAND, and not even float another Bond in the district of the County for which they plan to buy the land!!

What’s Homewise’s interest in all this? Well they stand to make $14.5 million in sales or more on the “Affordable Homes Sales, and over $28 million in estimated sales for the Non-Affordable Housing they plan to sell. It’s it ANY wonder that the folks at Homewise are calling folks in the Neighborhood NIMBY’s (Not In My Back Yard)!

Homewise is banking on the idea that people in the neighborhood will grow tired of fighting it out & forget about it. To that, I can only say….

NOT A FREAKING CHANCE!!!!!!!!

Janette Smith

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Krista Brening

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Adam Werber

I have lived in this area for 29 years and this open space has always been used by adjacent neighbors to take walks in the mornings, afternoons and especially on weekends. It's nice to have an area to walk, get fresh air and unwind. Most of my neighbors do not have time to drive to mountains or go to another area of Santa Fe to take a quick walk. Plus why do you want more people driving around Santa Fe just to take a walk somewhere. Right now if you drive near Agua Fria and South Meadows around 8:00am it is already nightmare to take your kids to school or try to get to work. The last thing we need are more homes and another school. The neighboring communities all fought so hard for the Santa Fe County to use tax payers money to save this open space. It would be a shame for this area to be developed. We need to save this open space. One persons strip of dirt is another persons slice of Paradise. Thanks Adam

Janette Smith

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Krista Brening

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Jitty Bap

Homewise, stop willfully ignoring the opinion of the neighborhood. It is not your place to define our desires for our neighborhood for us.

Janette Smith

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Mark Specter

I guess this town is too spiteful and privileged for one man to have an opinion anymore? Christ almighty are the nimbys ravenous. Do the open space folks want to come to the middle at all and offer any compromise? No. They want it their way or no way else. When we want to know, in a few years, why no young people or families live here, we'll easily have our reason.

Janette Smith

The compromise is the 17 acres offered by Agua Fria Village that has been IGNORED by Homewise. They want you there -- we want our Open Space -- go there. But Homewise won't do that because the land offered would cost a little more than the Open Space being given away by the County .... therefore Homewise would not realize as much of a profit in their pockets.

Mark Specter

Huh? The compromise is to build a totally different project someplace else? How is that not exactly NIMBYism?

Victor Lioce

Hey Mark Specter! Where do you work??? Share that info with us….

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

Mark Specter: compromise was offered by Agua Fria Village. Why doesn't Homewise go where they are wanted........because it might cost them a few more dollars and they would not have the added profit in their pocket?

Sasha McGhee

Young people are much less likely to move here because Santa Fe doesn’t prioritize recreational activities and open space in certain areas of the city. Additionally, I don’t know that we can call people who paid for an open space “NIMBYs”

Mark Specter

Because you all send to think compromise is literally building someplace else. Definition of Nimbys.

Victor Lioce

So you think it’s acceptable to call people NAMES? Is that part of your business profile, or just a poor attitude you choose not to rise above? I ask again. Where do you work? Are you a realtor? Not a great way of building a business reputation by insulting people. Do you also work for Homewise? Did they tell you to offer your bias opinion? Come on now…

Krista Brening

I have a hard time with what you define as a compromise. Eliminating 22 acres of open space and the residents of this community being left with 5 acres of a park? This open space is also the taxpayers so there’s that. We hope that future families may have access to an open space. Once it is paved over, there is no going back so we are thinking of the future. We are actually speaking for the people who don’t have the privilege to drive 20 minutes to access nature. Shouldn’t they have the “privilege” to walk to it?

Marlow Morrison

Definition of park: Large public green area , in a town, used for recreation.

Definition of open space: Open space is any open piece of land that is undeveloped (has no buildings or other built structures) and is accessible to the public.

It is easy to forget that driving somewhere is a privilege, and one that this sector of the city disproportionately does not have access to. City records held by MPO site the two most used bus routes in the entire city of SFe are from neighborhoods surrounding this Urban Open Space, we can draw conclusions from these city studies that that means a large percentage of residents can’t drive 20+ minutes to other Open spaces or parks for that matter and SWAN park is a 30+ minute walk (one way) from the area this Open Space services.

Something vitality missing from this conversation is neighborhood and community identity that creates a sense of place, its about quality of life as defined by these neighborhoods, this urban open space is apart of it. This isn’t a conversation that started 6 months ago, it’s started in 1999 when our neighborhoods formed a plan( public document) jointly with the city and the county about what we envisioned and aspired to be as a community. That “dirt lot” ( a fully intact thriving ecosystem) is a piece of us, and we planned for it, worked for it, and then we paid for it! We envision great things for it that do not include buildings. This isn’t just acreage. Development of it will destroy 20 years of efforts our community has made to create an identity and history TOGETHER. We know our neighbors because of it, we share friendships because of it, we support each other because of it and these social connections feed our spirit and that’s why you keep here from us.

As an urban open space it can not compare in its vastness to something like Tent Rocks, (a state park) but it holds its own when held up to the definition of what an open space PROVIDES to a community not just what an Open Space IS.

We, as community under served in Open Space and Parkland, are asking for our thoughtfully planned and documented efforts for this public land, designated as open space, be respected as such by the community, by city officials, and by HomeWise.

Krista Brening

Well said!

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Mark Specter

Where are those definitions from?

John Kongsvik

The fact that Ken did not immediately disclose his connection with Homewise makes every word he writes darkly deceptive.

This open space is fenced in to protect the animals, pets, and children who use this park from the increasing levels of traffic that flow - nonstop - along South Meadows Road. I am one of many parents who regularly uses this beautiful open space as a place to walk with my family. All of my children have played in this park, explored nature in this park, and enjoyed countless hours with their family and friends walking the myriads of trails this park offers.

I suspect that many of the people who rail against this park have never set foot in it. The entrances are quite accessible and always open. Its fenced-in perimeter offers a safe place to bring your family (pets welcome). Its wildly-tamed landscape has many marvelous secrets to share. May I suggest a brisk sunrise walk? A lazy afternoon stroll with pets? How about a Saturday treasure hunt with a group of children?

Not every park needs tables and teeter-totters to be of value. We should not needlessly strip nature from our neighborhoods. Instead, we should look for ways to integrate the two. This precious open space is a prime example of how to do this.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Krista Brening

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Sasha McGhee

Speaking of the many dirt fields along the Airport Road corridor, I’m curious if Homewise has considered one of those instead of the only designated open space in the area?

Susan Dorn

That’s an interesting idea. Maybe it’s because they would have to buy the land from a private owner. I expect the city or county, I’m so confused as to who “owns the land “, has offered Homewise a sweet deal

Krista Brening

Yup, it’s all about a lot for a little. There are soooo many open lots elsewhere but they’re fixated on this one

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Krista Brening

Exactly!

Janette Smith

Homewise will not consider any other option/area in the Airport Road because the land would cost more and would affect their pockets....which they want to line with our Open Space being offered at a "dirt" cheap price by the county....even though we paid for the "dirt" cheap land.

Mark Specter

Articles on this subject say Homewise is a nonprofit. What you describe sounds like a conspiracy theory.

Alice Valdez

This is NOT about the south meadows neighborhood not wanting more affordable housing, this is about us wanting to maintain what is ours, and should remain ours, to enjoy as we do, without having to drive to other parts of town, to enjoy peace and quiet and especially nature.

My real question to Homewise is, “if you are truly concerned about affordable housing in Santa Fe, why are you so intent on taking away the only open space in our area? Why can’t you locate AVAILABLE properties in other areas in Santa Fe?” Santa Fe does have a north side, an east side and even a west side. Look around and don’t limit your search to the south side!

Also, again, if your concern IS affordable housing, why do you only designate a small percentage of your development to the affordable housing effort, and build the majority of your homes for market priced homes in Santa Fe.

Please listen to the people who live here and who will be impacted by your development or at least tell the truth about your real intentions. True affordable housing is low on your list of priorities. At least own it or change your affordable housing percentages to 100% affordable housing.

Our bottom line is, please leave our open space for us to enjoy and find another space to build your “affordable housing”.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Krista Brening

It seems you have not read previous comments from folks opposing the open parks about why there is a fence there. They put a fence up to avoid having ATVs drive through there and people dumping trash. You obviously have never even walked in the open space which means you really shouldn’t have an opinion. If you took some time to actually walk through there you would see the natural habitat that has been rejuvenated by the protection of the fence. You would see that animals are thriving there and the people who visit the open space respect it as a sanctuary to be a part of. Keep the open space. Find another “dirt lot” so you say..and before writing an article, gather some more information and disclose your conflict of interest..

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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albert maggitti

If you don't understand what the fuss is all about, you'll never understand if you're just driving by it. To us, it is a microcosm of the wildlife and vegetation and vistas of New Mexico right here in our own backyards without having to get in our vehicles to drive out of town to get to it. More beneficially, it is an opportunity for solitary exercise and reflection and spiritual perspective. To walk, jog, or pedal, it's large enough to build up a sweat and gulp in the open air. A long enough time is spent to plan for your day or consider your problems or just let your mind wander. You could pause at the top of the southern hill and gaze out across the mountain range spreading out across the horizon. Body - mind- spirit. Good medicine. Sitting in your car will never allow you to witness the variety of wildlife that have taken residence here or the seasonal changes in the plant life it. Don't lack the courage to put your feet in someone else's shoes. Like mine. I've been here long enough to have tried to feed apples to the horses trying not to get my fingers bit. My name is Albert and you could reach me at 438-8839.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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David Gold

District 3 has 20 acres of parks and open space while all other Districts have 100 acres. There is a real social justice issue here.

Many working families rely on nearby recreational opportunities for their children because of time constraints. In this area there are virtually none. Nor are there any city proposals to buy more. If this is destroyed, there is unlikely to be a replacement.

This is currently a public open space and should remain one. The City should work with the neighbors to decide on whatever improvements the want.

Homewise should avail themselves of one of the many private "vacant lots" mentioned to build affordable housing. Mr. Brown also should have disclosed his affiliation.

Save the South Meadows Open Space!

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Rick Martinez

Mr. Brown fails to mention that the open space at South Meadows is dedicated open space by the County. The properties he mentioned are all private properties which are allowed to be developed. For other examples of open space, look at the La Tierra trails off of Highway 599. What Mr. Brown is advocating for is continuous development on every parcel of recreational open space. Maybe the only problem on South Meadows is the fence around the open space, which is a problem that's easily solved by removing it.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

Mr. Ken Brown -- you are entirely missing the point on the oposition to your proposed development. The land you classify as 'a dirt field' was purchased through our property taxes for our use. The closed door deal with your organization should have at least been advertised to the residents -- who purchased the space with our property taxes. Yes there is a 'plethora of dirt fields' on the south side...but they are owned by individuals...not the taxpayers. The taxpayers voted for the bond to purchase the land which makes it much more than 'a dirt field'. Frenchy's Field on Agua Fria is also 'a dirt field'. Would you recommend Homewise attempt to purchase it also?

Cheryl Odom

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Sidney Monroe

Maybe this "opinion" should have a disclaimer: Ken Brown, Outreach Manager at Homewise Inc

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-brown-56527821a

Susan Dorn

Ditto! Does that mean he can’t have an opinion? Of course not. But let’s face it, his opinion is bound to be colored by the fact that he is part of the organization on a leadership level that is attempting this slick move.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

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Cheryl Odom

In fairness, Ken Brown works for Homewise, which should be noted here, since Homewise is the proposed developer of the South Meadows open space.

Janette Smith

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KIM shanahna

Ken Brown, your take on the Southside is a breath of fresh air. I'm convinced you speak for the vast majority of Southside residents who choose to stay quiet in the face of nasty social media commentary. Hope it doesn't fall upon you.

Janette Smith

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Janette Smith

Kim shanahna [thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]

Cheryl Odom

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-shanahan-80b11611/ Another developer. Just saying.

Mark Specter

Exactly. With all the vitriol, why would someone speak out? It's one thing to disagree, a complete different thing to attack someone that way.

Janette Smith

Attack who?????????????

Janette Smith

Attack who???????????????

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