Escondida Lake is a popular spot for fishing. Planned improvements include enhanced RV spaces, plus more pavilions and cooking sites.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

It’s all about the quality of life.

Thanks to a grant of $225,000, the county’s Escondida Lake park will see long-needed renovations and upgrades. The grant money comes from a regional recreation centers fund of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

Escondida Lake and park have long been a favorite location for fishing and camping in Socorro County, boasting RV hookups, tent sites, bathrooms, and potable water year-round.

County Manager Michael Hawkes said renovation of the park had been a concern of the county commission for several months.

“We applied for it in August last year,” Hawkes said. “Now that it has been awarded, the grant money will be applied toward enhanced RV spaces as well as the number of spaces, increasing the number of pavilions and cook sites, and increased wastewater capability and other facilities.”

He said landscaping throughout the park would involve aeration of the soil.

“It will end up being an estimated $2 million project after it’s all said and done,” Hawkes said. “This is the first phase of the plan. Right now, the architect is going over everything to present to the commission. They’ll submit concepts and make recommendations to help the commissioners decide what to go with. The next step will be to go out for bids.”

Currently, the county charges $18 for full hook-up sites and $10 for non-hook-up sites. Tent sites go for $6 a night. A fee of $25 is also charged for group picnic shelter reservations.

In other action, the commissioners approved a franchise agreement requested by TDS Metrocom. The deal gives TDS the authority to implement a countywide cable network system throughout the unincorporated areas of Socorro County if it chooses to do so.

“Yes, it is a franchise agreement, but it doesn’t keep any of their competitors from coming in and constructing a cable system and possibly internet of their own,” Hawkes said. “But, TDS is interested in trying to get the franchise agreement in the event they decide to move forward on it. It doesn’t alleviate any competitors from moving in.”

The term of this franchise agreement will be for a period of 15 years from the effective date,

The county is also moving forward on the San Antonio Drainage Infrastructure Project.

At its March 16 meeting, the commission accepted a bid of $980,000 from Dennis Engineering for Phases II, IV, V, and VI of the flood control project. The project involves directing flood waters toward retention ponds.

“The project is already engineered,” Hawkes said. “These phases will include getting property easements and building culverts. The culverts will be located where we want to do a controlled release of flood waters into retaining ponds.

“There are arroyos right now, but we’ll line those with concrete,” he said.

Also, at the last meeting, the county commission authorized a severance package for all senior center employees.