575-445-3652

Category: Letters to the Editor

Old Pass Road Access Is Questioned

Subject: The unauthorized erecting of a gate and signing as private property the Old Raton Pass Road to stop or restrict access to city property.

I wish to make it clear that I have no interest in this matter other than concern that city property that I have used for over a decade now has been gated and signed as private property by unauthorized individuals. I do not own property close to the area, personally I know of no one who does other than the ones who placed the gate and signs there.

As a result on March 1, 2017, I was cited by the Colfax County Sheriff’s Office for being in violation of 30-15-01-1009 and as stated on the violation notice for damage to (sic) “no trespassing” signs he said were illegally posted.

The signs allegedly damaged are signs placed on City of Raton Property, specifically on the Old Raton Pass Road. Property owner(s), who own property beyond the gate and the signs, have constructed, erected and shut a gate and signed the area behind the gate as PRIVATE PROPERTY. The signs further state that trespassing is prohibited. The road in question is the property of the City of Raton and has been open to the public for many years. The gate was constructed and placed on the road in the fall of 2016.

I attended a Raton City Commission meeting on November 8, 2016 and spoke to them on the issue when the subject was addressed at that meeting. Several other people were present at that same meeting to address the commission on the same issue. Later I visited privately, two separate times, with Raton City Manager Scott Berry on this same matter. I have also communicated on this matter with City Commissioner Ron Chavez. This dealt with a gate and signs that had been placed across the road limiting access to the Old Raton Pass Road beyond the gate.

I specifically asked both the city commission at the meeting and City Manager Scott Berry, on two separate private meetings with him, if the city had erected the gate or signed the property? The answer in all cases was no. I then specifically asked if the city had authorized anyone to place a gate and sign the property as private? Again was answer no. From both the city commission and City Manager Scott Berry, the city had neither erected the gate, nor signed it, nor had the city authorized anyone to do so.

I then requested that the city instruct who ever had or has had the gate erected and signed the property beyond as private property to remove both the gate and signs. I further asked that if for some reason, the people who had placed the gate and signs refused that the city do this themselves. Neither the city commission nor City Manager Barry did anything about it.  City Manager Scott Berry informed me that an opinion had not been received from some legal entity they were dealing with. The gate and signs remain and I now have been cited by the Colfax County Sheriffs Office to magistrate court for allegedly damaging the private property/no trespassing signs placed there.

It is my hope that the City of Raton and the community in general act to stop this effort by whom ever has erected the gate and signed city property as private. This is an effort to stop the citizens from lawfully accessing property, the Old Raton Pass Road, that in all reality belongs to them. If something is not done the citizens of Raton and general public will lose access to a historical road that belongs to them. The gate and signs are clearly meant to keep citizens away from city property that otherwise has been open to them.

This same issue, the gating of the road and signing, has previously been an issue in Raton and before the city commission. The City Commission has addressed this very issue in the past. Now we have a new owner, or owners, beyond the city limits and on either side of the road that has been gated and signed. The issue has started all over again.

The city has an obligation to its citizens to remove the gate and instruct who ever gated and signed to cease and desist in this effort to prohibit their lawful use of the area.

Preciliano J. Martin
936 South. 5th Street
Raton, NM 87740

Raton Pass Road

Subject: Raton Pass Road

I have just listened to and watched the video of last nights (October 25, 2016) city commission meeting posted on the KRTN website. I am in particular writing to address the portion of the meeting dealing with the “access” or limiting and or denying access  to the citizens of Raton and or “deeding” the right of way of the Old Pass Road to landowners adjacent to the road.

This is not only a bad idea, it is a horrible idea. Consider this my protest.

This morning (10/26/2016) I personally stopped and visited a bit with City Manager Barry. Afterwords I came home and watched the video of the meeting and the comments made by the mayor and all of the commissioners as well as Mr. Steve Hyden who is a property owner there.

My wife and I drove the road this very afternoon and looked for the evidence of the vandalism going on which was mentioned at the meeting. All we could find that seemed new were a few individual pieces of roofing material, all of them this side of the towers located this side of a gate that has been newly installed there since the last time we were up there. I could pick up the pieces visible from the roadway in 15 to 20 minutes at the most. There was no evidence we noticed of any vandalism that has not been there for years.

There is a new gate and some signs placed there warning folks that the road is private, it is located at the same location where gates have been installed in the past and which the city then removed or had them removed..

Some questions that the citizens of Raton need answers to are:

1) What is the rush that it needs to be voted on at the next meeting which is the same night as the national election. People will be focused on that and not a city commission meeting.

2) The road from the towers to where it is blocked off is at least two and 1/2 miles. Do the math 2.5 miles X 5,280 Ft/Mile = 132,200 feet. Multiply that X 100 feet wide for the right of way and you get 1,320,000 square Ft., one million three hundred and twenty thousand square Ft. divide that by 43,560 Sq. Ft/Acre and we have 30.30 acres. This is what the city proposed to close off or “vacate” to the property owners as Mayor Mantz asked.

3) What is the monetary value of the property in question? Does the city know?

4) What is the recreational/cultural value of the Old Pass Road to the citizens of Raton?

5)  Is the monetary/recreational/cultural value sufficient to allow proper public discussion at the city commission meeting(s).?

6) Who are the individuals who stand to gain by this proposed action? We know commissioner Donald Giacomo is a land owner in the proposed area, he said so at the meeting.

7) Who authorized the placement of a gate there which was there today, October 26th, a few hours after the meeting drew to a close?

8) Who actually put the gate there? Was it the city? One of the Property owners?

9) Is the placement of the gate legal?

10) There are signs stating “PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING, NOT A PUBLIC ROADWAY”. Who placed the signs there? This is a public road, it belongs to the citizens of Raton.

11) Did the city authorize someone to place these signs there?

Further the appearance of a rush job is not consistent with good governance. Commissioner Chavez seemed agreeable to the idea of closing the road, Mayor Mantz actually asked about the possibility of DEEDING the property to the land owners, Commissioner Donald Giacomo indicated he is a property owner and as such would benefit from the action, Commissioner Schuester seemed ready to put it on the agenda for the next meeting which occurs on election night, Commissioner Segotta made the motion to place this on the November 8th meeting as an action item.

I think if you were a citizen sitting listening to this you too might ask if this is a good idea? If this is a rush to do it without proper citizen input? Why the rush.

Preciliano Martín
575-445-4865
P.O. Box 513
536 SO. 5th Street
Raton, NM 87740