MainStreet secures master plan funding

The Belen MainStreet Partnership has received the funding it needs to create a downtown master plan for Belen.

Last week, the New Mexico Economic Development Department awarded the $50,000 grant to the Belen MainStreet Partnership.

The downtown master plan will provide a vision for downtown Belen through a series of community meetings and expert analysis — with the goal of building a stronger business and residential environment downtown.

Coupled with the plan will be an economic analysis from the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The economic analysis began in November and will be completed next month.

Belen MainStreet has been working with the City of Belen on both the plan and analysis.

Old city hall roof restoration to start

Thanks to a new $15,000 grant from PNM, the Belen MainStreet Partnership and City of Belen will begin restoration of the leaky roof at old city hall.

“Belen was recently recognized as an emerging MainStreet community,” Gov. Susana Martinez said during the announcement on December 18, “And is working to develop its distinctive characteristics, like restoring the roof on old city hall and the police station, an historic building which dates back to the New Deal era.”

The old city hall is a Works Progress Administration project, originally constructed during the Great Depression. Over the years, the building housed city hall, the fire department, police department and the municipal court.

The building has been closed for more than a decade when the City of Belen purchased the bank that is the current city hall at Main Street and Becker Avenue.

The Belen MainStreet Partnership is first working to make the building visually presentable from the street, painting the building and providing new window coverings that will remove most of the plywood and other boards on the windows.

The group hopes to find funding sources in the near future to secure the building with new doors and locks and begin repair work inside.

Community garden gets grant

From PNM:

The PNM Resources Foundation announced grants to 32 organizations, 29 across New Mexico and three in Texas, conducting projects which promote environmental stewardship and/or community improvements of public spaces. Grants totaling $300,000 will be awarded in honor of the PNM Resources Foundation’s 30th anniversary. Community members will be able to enjoy the benefits of these projects by as early as start of 2014. Here are the exciting projects selected through this grant initiative.

New Mexico

Belen Main Street Partnership to expand the El Corazón de Belen Garden Park & Community Garden. (Belen)

Commonweal Conservancy to build publicly-accessible trails for hiking, mountain bike riding, trail running, and equestrian use in Santa Fe County’s Galisteo Basin. (Santa Fe)

Cornerstones Community Partnerships for Santo Domingo Pueblo to reconstruct an athletic field. (Santo Domingo Pueblo)

East Central Ministries and the Growing Awareness Urban Farm to create urban gathering gardens in neighborhoods in Albuquerque’s International District. (Albuquerque)

El Museo Cultural De Santa Fe to build a garden and streetscape near the entry on the Santa Fe Railyard. (Santa Fe)

Eastern New Mexico University with the Ruidoso Foundation to create a rainwater capture system for ENMU campus building. (Ruidoso)

Erda Gardens and Learning Center to increase plant diversity within the Garden’s urban food forest in Albuquerque’s South Valley. (Albuquerque)

Friends of Smokey-Capitan for new park development including native plant landscaping and rain water catchment system in Ruidoso Downs. (Ruidoso Downs)

Grant County 4-H to plant trees, improve landscaping and plant a butterfly garden in Penny Park. (Silver City

Golden Spread Rural Frontier Coalition with Union County Network to construct a community greenhouse to counter harsh effects of drought. (Clayton)

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center with UNM Native American Studies program to develop a community garden collaboration focused on the significance of gardening for indigenous people and teaching sustainable gardening practices. (Albuquerque)

Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation to clean up, maintain and beautify county roads in Las Vegas and San Miguel County. (Las Vegas)

Native Plant Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque Chapter for pollinator reserve, walking trails and habitat restoration for Bear Canyon Arroyo’s Oso Grande Natural Space. (Albuquerque)

New Mexico Bio Park Society for the Ecosystem Exploration Space, an outdoor education space within the Cottonwood Gallery focused on the ecology of the New Mexican cottonwood forest, bosque and the Rio Grande ecosystem. (Albuquerque)

New Mexico Land Conservancy for trail construction and land restoration at the Petchesky Conservation Center near the Community College District of Santa Fe. (Santa Fe)

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Foundation to create A Walk Through New Mexico, a living exhibit to educate visitors about diversity of geology and vegetation of modern New Mexico. (Albuquerque)

New Mexico State University-Alamogordo STEM Outreach to build a Native Plant Demonstration Garden as well as landscaping improvements and a water conservation project for the Alamogordo Public Library. (Alamogordo)

Open Space Alliance for the Food Forest/Pollinator Project to expand and diversify the habitats of fields near the Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center. (Albuquerque)

Rio Grande Return to develop and implement a portion of the Rio Grande Corridor at Buckman restoration project including ecology restoration, bird and bat nesting, and cattle management with local students. (Santa Fe)

River Reach Foundation to extend trails along the Animas River. (Farmington)

Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute to install a water filtration system at the Farmers Market Hall. (Santa Fe)

Sawmill Community Land Trust to convert a former industrial site in the Sawmill neighborhood into a sustainable community garden. (Albuquerque)

Seed2Need for greenhouse construction, planting, maintenance and harvesting of fresh produce for food pantries in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, Bernalillo and Placitas. (Corrales)

Sherman Family Charitable Foundation for Healthy Kids of Luna County for local park enhancements and to publish an Activity and Park Guide for Deming/Luna county. (Deming)

The National Center for Frontier Communities with the County Extension Service to install water lines and a drip irrigation system, to build outside meeting area space and general enhancements for fairground community gardens. (Lordsburg)

The Nature Conservancy for habitat restoration and stream crossing improvements at the Santa Fe Nature Canyon Preserve. (Santa Fe)

The Volunteer Center of Grant County to install an irrigation system at the Commons Center for Food Security and Sustainability. (Silver City)

Upper Gila Watershed Alliance for the Campgrounds Restoration Project to improve riparian habitat on the Gila River and improve campgrounds. (Silver City)

Valencia Community Gardens for construction of a greenhouse to increase garden production. (Los Lunas)

Texas

Alvin Community College Foundation to provide lighting to a 5-acre public park near Alvin Community College and to help with park enhancements. (Alvin, TX)

Development Corporation of Strawn to improve lighting and reduce light pollution near the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. (Strawn, TX)

West Columbia Economic Development Corporation to establish the TNMP Discovery Garden, a foot garden and arboretum in West Columbia. (West Columbia, TX)

MainStreet works to restore old city hall

The Belen MainStreet Partnership has undertaken a multi-phased process to restore old city hall on Becker Avenue in Belen.

The old city hall is a Works Progress Administration project, originally constructed during the Great Depression. Over the years, the building housed city hall, the fire department, police department and the municipal court.

The building has been closed for more than a decade when the City of Belen purchased the bank that is the current city hall at Main Street and Becker Avenue.

The Belen MainStreet Partnership is first working to make the building visually presentable from the street, painting the building and providing new window coverings that will remove most of the plywood and other boards on the windows.

The group hopes to find funding sources in the near future to secure the building with new doors and locks, repair the leaky roof and begin repair work inside.

Country & Americana Festival is August 17

CELEBRATE BELEN COUNTRY & AMERICANA MUSIC FESTIVAL – A BENEFIT FOR OUR VETERANS

WHEN: SATURDAY, AUGUST 17th, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
WHERE: BELEN’S BECKER STREET FROM SECOND to FIFTH STREETS

This first Celebrate Belen Music event offers music, art, food, & New Mexico wine & beer in a street festival setting on Belen’s downtown Becker Street, located near the Harvey House Museum. This is a benefit for Valencia County Veterans and families in cooperation with the Central Rio Grande Veterans Organization.

Two stages with 10 Country and Americana bands, dancing in the streets!
Artists, Mansion Players Theater Performance, Square Dancing, & More!
Custom Motorcycle, Horseshoe and other Competitions!
Farmer’s Market, Merchandise and Food Vendors! Wine & Beer Gardens!
Veteran Service Organization Booths and Services!
Raffle! Free raffle tickets for donations to Vets of cash and necessities!
RailRunner service between Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Belen for this Festival!
Easy access from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Socorro on I-25.
Camping near the Rio Grande in beautiful Willie Chavez Park!
Lodging at nearby Hotels and RV Park!

This festival is organized by the Celebrate Belen Team which includes the City of Belen, Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce, Hispano Chamber of Valencia County, Belen MainStreet Partnership, and local business and community organizations.

For more information, visit www.celebratebelen.com

Depp films ‘Transcendence’

Downtown Belen has been transformed into a post-apocalyptic movie set and staging ground for Johnny Depp’s latest movie Transcendence.

Depp will be joined by Morgan Freeman and others in Belen and other locations this month to film the movie. In it, a group tries to stop two scientists from creating computers so power they can transcend the abilities of the human mind.

The film has already brought a boost to local businesses providing services and local goods in support of the movie and its crew.

‘As Cool As I Am’ hits theaters

As Cool As I Am, filmed in downtown Belen last year, was released this week in theaters and on movie streaming websites like Amazon.

Featuring Claire Danes and James Marsden, As Cool As I Am is a story about a teenage girl coping with a dramatic family life in a small town.

Not only was the movie filmed in Belen, but the movie is actually set in Belen, featuring several beautiful Belen homes on Dalies Avenue, showing wide views of downtown Belen, and highlighting Belen’s iconic water tower in several shots.

A few Belen area residents also made it into the film, including the Belen MainStreet Partnership’s own supporters, Maria-Alicia Cordova and Dubra Karnes-Padilla.

MainStreet transitioning to ‘Start-Up’

The Belen MainStreet Partnership will be transitioning to the “Start-Up” phase of the New Mexico MainStreet program in late July, according to the director of the New Mexico MainStreet program.

New Mexico MainStreet announced in an email yesterday that the Belen MainStreet Partnership has met all of the benchmarks needed to successfully enter the next phase of the MainStreet program. The new phase will open up the partnership to additional resources and funding.

The partnership was founded in 2009 by the City of Belen, lead by former president and then-mayor Ronnie Torres. The group has been in the “Emerging” phase since then.

The official transition to “Start-Up” will take place on July 25 at a quarterly MainStreet conference in Taos.

‘The Last Stand’ hits theaters

The Last Stand, filmed in Belen last fall, was released this weekend in theaters around the country.

The Last Stand, which brought Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman to Belen, was filmed along Becker Avenue in downtown, where a set was constructed among Belen’s historic buildings.

The set included the construction of five new buildings, several new facades and a new diner called “Irv’s Diner.”

Although the name of the town in the movie is Somerton, AZ, several local businesses received cameos in Somerton’s downtown, the local sports team is called the Eagles, just like Belen High School’s mascot, and Irv’s Diner has historic photographs of Belen hanging on its walls.

The Last Stand brought a boost to local business, and not with in cameo appearances. Lion’s Gate spent money on local props and other local goods.

MainStreet updates city on accomplishments

The Belen MainStreet Partnership updated the Belen City Council yesterday night about it’s accomplishments. Here are some of our recent activities mentioned during the presentation:

EVENTS FOR THE PUBLIC

Events held and supported by the Belen MainStreet Partnership, which have increased activity in downtown, include:

– Farmer’s Market: MainStreet provides organizational support to Jenniffer Singleterry who operates the market.

– First Footers Festival: MainStreet held a raffle to pick the first footer, had a ceremonial first walk across the Reinken Avenue pedestrian crossing.

– Festival of Trees: MainStreet supported and helped organize last year’s event.

SUPPORT FROM NEW MEXICO MAINSTREET

The Belen MainStreet Partnership has received technical support from New Mexico MainStreet, which has included:

– Completion and submission of our IRS 501c3 application.
– Design of our logo.
– Support for our façade improvement to the former Belen Public Health Department building.

TRAINING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Belen MainStreet Partnership has held informational meetings and trainings, which have brought visitors from across the state to Belen:

– PROMOTION training: Ideas for promoting Main Street.
– DESIGN training: Design purposes and ideas.
– DESIGN training: Tips for successful storefronts.
– ORGANIZATION training: Nonprofit volunteer recruitment strategies.

Belen MainStreet Partnership representatives also attend trainings across the state.

STUDIES

The Belen MainStreet Partnership has organized and supported studies that give us all ideas for improving downtown:

– DPAC: MainStreet coordinated this study with UNM students who designed improvements for downtown.

– Walkable Belen: MainStreet has supported UNM students and the UNM-VC Resilency Corps, who are designing improvements for downtown, which is an offshoot of DPAC.

– One-way street and parking study: MainStreet assessed the need for parking in the commercial areas of downtown.

– Building inventory: MainStreet assessed the uses and needs of downtown property.

– Quarterly reports: MainStreet submits regular reports to Santa Fe about the downtown economy.

PROJECTS

– Rail Runner Tours: MainStreet received a $10,000 grant from the State of New Mexico to promote tourism in Valencia County using the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

– Rail Trail Brochure: MainStreet received a $3,500 grant from BNSF to design and publish a brochure to promote rail tourism statewide.

– Former Belen Health Department Façade improvement: MainStreet renovated the façade of the building with financial support from the property owner and volunteers from UNM-VC Student Government and the Belen Art League.

– Walking Tour Map: MainStreet designed and published a map to promote a walking tour of downtown Belen, funded by local businesses.

– Rail Fan Guide: MainStreet is designed and will publish a guide to promote tourism to fans of the railroad, giving them pointers on how best to view Belen’s trains.

– Corazon de Belen Community Garden Park: MainStreet has worked with the community garden committee to apply for two grants in support of the community garden project

– Murals: MainStreet coordinated the painting of several mural in downtown Belen, funded by local businesses.

– Belen MainStreet Partnership Website: MainStreet maintains its own website with information about downtown Belen.

POSSIBLE FUTURE PROJECTS

– Restoring the Water Tower: MainStreet is considering organizing a fundraising effort to raise approximately $40,000 toward repainting the water tower.

– Designate the Arts and Railroad Districts: Based on the results of the Walkable Belen study, MainStreet will look at designating two districts – one for art and one for railroad history.

– District Clean-up Day: MainStreet is tentatively scheduling its first cleanup of the Arts District for late October 2012.