The town of Lake Arthur is working its way, grant by grant and state funding allotment by state funding allotment, toward modern infrastructure.
A $673,775 federal grant that is due to be disbursed soon is helping toward that aim.
The town, a portion of which are the only colonias area of Chaves County due to its underdeveloped and financially strapped circumstances, received a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Block Development Grant in September to continue its long-term project to connect all of its residences and businesses to a sewer system. Prior to the project start in 2010, the entire town used septic tanks or cesspools.
The project should help the small community of about 433 residents grow, said Ysidro Salazar, mayor and fire chief.
“The reason why the council and I decided to do this, a lot of folks wanted to move out here, to Lake Arthur, but with the way the land was situated they could buy maybe one lot, maybe two lots, but that wasn’t enough for the Environment Department to approve a septic tank,” Salazar said. “So we figured the best way to do that to maybe get more people in town is to go ahead and complete a sewer system.“
He added that business recruitment also should benefit from the project.
“The sewer system might help to bring in some economic base,” Salazar said. “We had Dollar General looking at us at one time before they went to Hagerman, and I think maybe because we didn’t have a good infrastructure here is why we didn’t get it. But hopefully if we get something good here we could get some businesses.”
Salazar is running for re-election March 6 against challenger Fred Chavarria, who also has expressed support for infrastructure projects to help the city grow.
The sewer installation project has gone through five phases already as funding has become available. The new CDBG grant will enable about 30 more households on the west side of the town to be connected to the sewer and will involve placing connecting lines underneath State Highway 2.
At least one more phase still needs to occur, which would require another grant and would hook up the northeast section of Lake Arthur.
The city also needs improved roads and an upgraded water system. Salazar says the town intends to apply for a grant specifically set aside for colonias for the water project and might seek up to $900,000.
He said the water system needs include increasing the water tank capacity from 210,000 gallons to at least 350,000 gallons and installing six-inch lines to connect wells from a former missile range to the tank and then additional six-inch lines to distribute the water to buildings in the city, replacing older, smaller lines that contain asbestos. A booster system to increase water pressure in parts of the town is also planned.
Two other communities in the county to receive CDBG grants in September are Dexter and Hagerman, according to the Southeast New Mexico Economic Development District / Council of Governments, which works with local government entities in five counties. Dexter received funding for street and drainage improvements, while Hagerman’s grant is also for improvements to its sewer system.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.