January 31, 2019 – first meeting of a concerned group following rumors that the Town was going to close Kit Carson Park for 4 months to begin some type of construction. Rumors were flying!

Over the next several months we had meetings every 2 weeks or so. We developed a name for the group, a Mission Statement and a list of Issues of Concern. Petitions were circulated requesting the Town move the stage and large music events to another more suitable location. We developed a web site and between the canvasing of surrounding neighbor hoods, web site registration and local business, we signed up 735 petition signatures.

On February 25, 2019, a group of us went to the Town of Taos Workshop meeting where the KC Park improvements were to be presented. Rick Bellis made the presentation and basically said the only work that planned was the construction of an apron around the stage and the sod work on the grass. He said they did not get the grant they wanted so it was not certain if they would be able to work on the walkways until later. He stated the walkways would be 6’ wide so trucks could use them too. The park was only going to be closed in small areas as they did the work.

Our group spoke about the many rumors about park closure, ie. the building of a permanent stage, the moving of the stage to the ball park area, etc. One member spoke about the noise from the large music events that went on late in the night and the music was so loud it rattled her windows. This member lives down the hill from the park to the east. Another member talked about the trees that were being cut down for this project and the fact that the Town was not following the guidelines of the Parks Master Plan to be “guardians of the Park for the community”. She objected that the Town was not following the Parks Draft Master Plan. And there was no construction plan for the public to see. The Town was just doing what ever they wanted. The Mayor said the events would end at 10 pm. There was no resolution about the noise level. The Town said everything they were doing was allowed.

February 26, 2019, the plan was to take our Mission Statement, our Issues of Concern and our 735 signature petition to the Town Council. A call was issued to the rest of the membership to come to the meeting to speak out against the plans for the Park and to issue a request that the stage and the large music events be moved to another location. One half hour before the meeting, a call came in that one of the council members had seen our statement for the Council Meeting and advised us to not present. He said that it would not be in our best interest. A member went down to the Council Chambers and put up a sign saying the Friends of Kit Carson Park would not be presenting at the meeting. Community members who had gathered to speak were informed of this. The plan was canceled.

March 7, 2019 – Council Member Pasqual Maestes attended our next meeting and gave us a rundown on his reasons to advise us to cancel the presentation. He said at this stage, the Council would not take us seriously and that we should take more time to do research and prepare a stronger campaign. He said let all the events go ahead and that we should monitor them and make another presentation in 6 months or so.Note: he told us that early on there was talk about using the property down Salazar Road, but it was dropped as the cost would be in the millions to develop that property.The Town determined Kit Carson Park was the best location. Money is being generated from having large music events in Town and the economic diversity of the Historic District has being established. This new economic development in Town is making Grant funding more accessible. Rest assured, the Town is committed to holding these large music events in Kit Carson Park. Site construction us now underway.

Following the meeting with the Council member, the group agreed that we did not want to let the events proceed this summer without trying to get some compromise from the Town on certain issues. We began looking around for an attorney to help us develop a strategy. We needed strong backing in the next approach to the Town.

March 13, 2019 – A meeting was called at John Dunn Shops. We invited people who had worked on the Couse Property issue to come to the meeting. It was determined that we might have to begin a fund-raising campaign to help pay for an attorney. One of the group that day was an attorney. He advised us of some approach options. The main issue was one of Public Nuisance. Another person present suggested we contact the National Recreation & Parks Association in Virginia, as this expanded use of Park property is a common problem across the country.

March 19, 2019 – one of our members found a Taos lawyer who agreed to work with us. A small group of 4 went to meet with Alan Maestes. He listened to our issues and said he would assign Kathryn Harding to work with us. We gave them all the material we had for their review.

March 25, 2019 – A member had a phone consultation with Richard Dolesh of the NR&Parks Assoc. in Virginia. * See the report written about that meeting in prior e-mails. He basically said that Towns and Cities across the country were taking Park property and expanding that use to cover a more economical purpose than just a park – in fact, to be a source of funding for the Towns and cities. This is entirely legal – they are just expanding the allowable existing usage. They are not changing the use. Note: In the case here in Taos, the approved Parks Master Plan does show the use of concerts and events are allowed. Mr. Dolesh said our fight is not so much a legal battle as a political battle and that we had to develop a strategy around that issue.

April 8, 2019 – three members of the Friends of Kit Carson Park went to met with Kathyrn Harding. Following that discussion it was determined that an “issues letter” and a request to be put on the Town of Taos Workshop Agenda, would be the best approach for now. Fees were discussed. The initial letter and meeting action would cost $800. If we went further to file a lawsuit – that might cost between $5,000. to $30,000We agreed to begin with the letter and workshop plan to the Town. The group
will try to come to some agreement on the following issues:

The noise issue of the music events. The noise ordinance lists 45 decibels and the Parks Rules lists 120 decibels– which is the level of a jet engine. A reasonable level must be set. The time limit for the large musical events. We want the Mayor to hold to the 10 pm limit. There needs to be a limit to the number of large music events that could happen per year. Plus other issues concerning the trees, the sod, the walkways, the Acequia Madre.

For now, since we cannot stop the construction in the Park nor the large music events in the Park. At least we can try to monitor and contain these events in some manner for this coming summer season. The next step would be to campaign to have the stage and these loud musical events moved out of the Historic District to a more suitable location on other Town Property. This would be a longer fight.

Note: I hope this gives concerned members an over-view of the progression of the workings of the Friends of KC Park. Hopefully you can support our current plan of action. We will keep you informed.

If you have any comments please direct them to Lynn FitzGerald lyfitzgerald@msn.com