Sunland Park City Council addresses plans to annex Santa Teresa Country Club

Country club residents raise concerns at meeting about future of neighborhood

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico - Sunland Park City Council had a late night Tuesday after plans to vote on a resolution to annex the Santa Teresa Country Club.

There was no vote and no creation of a resolution, instead, councilors listened to residents' concerns and questions.

The overwhelming response went late into the night.

A woman told ABC-7, Sunland Park officials did not notify residents of the country club about the meeting.

"They put flyers all over Sunland Park, but they forgot to put them in Santa Teresa and it was an issue for Santa Teresa," said Mary Gonzalez, a resident of the country club.

Gonzalez said she found out about the meeting Tuesday afternoon when he appeared on ABC-7 at 4 to talk about the possible annexation.

Another Santa Teresa resident told councilors he had not made up his mind yet if he liked the idea of his neighborhood being part of Sunland Park, but he did ask them to keep all decisions transparent and include all the residents.

Mayor Javier Perea respnded,"we're not saying the annexation is going to happen, this meeting is just to open the dialogue."

"We're looking for ways to get this city on solid, financial footing. This city should be at least four or five times larger than it is now," said councilman Kenneth Giove.

City manager Vernon Wilson addressed three types of annexation in the state of New Mexico:

The first would require a petition to be circulated for the annexation.

The second option is condemnation. Wilson said Sunland Park has the right to go in and condemn areas and annex them.

He called it the more "heavy-handed" option and could cause conflict.

The last option is boundary adjustment. A three-person committee including an appointed member from the city of Sunland Park and the Santa Teresa Country Club would work together to redraw the boundaries of the city limits.

The Santa Teresa Country Club faces issues of its own.

For years, residents have asked for major repairs to the golf course, tennis courts and streets. It has been unkempt and no longer used by members.

In 2012, the country club was on the auction block.

Another resident, retired and lives on the country club property, approached the podium to ask if the country club would get help from Sunland Park to fix the streets and offer its law enforcement.

"Your police department has vastly improved in the last two years. You would be providing us with police service that we frankly don't have my understanding. I do see that as a plus," she said.

"You might want to bring that up when you're trying to sell us on this, that you would bring us a benefit."

The entire room erupted in laughter, but took a serious turn with the resident's next statement.

"We want to know what we're getting because obviously you want us for the money."

Mayor Perea and the councilors stopped her mid-sentence.

Councilor Kenneth Giove responded,"we want political muscle."

"Political muscle is it what you want," she said.

As for repairs to the streets, Sunland Park can only step in if they are public roads.

The country club is private property and New Mexico law prohibits local governments from allocating money to repair private property.

Mary Gonzalez told ABC-7 Sunland Park's plan to annex the country club is a poltical move.

"I know that they are still in the red...there's a hidden agenda and the hidden agenda is 'how can we (Sunland Park) get more money. We are a little piggybank and I don't approve that," said Gonzalez.

Mayor Javier Perea sat down with ABC-7 before the meeting started Tuesday and talked about why this annexation is important for the entire area.

"There's a lot of movement happening in this area. We are going to add about 1,000 to 2,000 homes in the next two years. If are boundaries don't expand, we're going to run out of space so we need to start looking at the long-term plans for the city," said Perea.

Recently, Sunland Park annexed nearly 300 acres of land next to the country club for development.

Council decided Tuesday night to continue talking to residents of the Santa Teresa Country Club.

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