On Stands Now
June 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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La Cienega Gymnasium and Cafeteria Transitioning to Senior Center

Questa’s former elementary school will be seeing big changes in the coming months. According to a press release from the village, the Village of Questa began working in 2023 to determine the viability of the La Cienega Elementary School building, which has sat abandoned for several years. The village wanted to get a full understanding of the viability of the property to ascertain if the structures could be repurposed, therefore they conducted several viability studies over the past year.

The main section of the school building was found to have high levels of asbestos, mold, and lead paint. Additionally, the building’s foundation is collapsing in certain sections, including the walls and roof. The cafeteria and gymnasium were both found to be viable, however repairs to rehabilitate the buildings will be costly. The village has reportedly paid $43,000 to determine the viability of the property.

The village held three public meetings in May of 2023, soliciting feedback from the community to understand what residents would want to see for the facility. Although the village saw minimal public participation, this didn’t hinder their plans to move forward applying for funds to assist with the remediation and construction plans for the property.

Village leadership is proud to announce that the State Department of Aging and Long-Term Services has awarded $700,000 in funding to help the Village of Questa with the project. The funding will be utilized to remove the old school buildings that have fallen into extreme disrepair over many years of neglect, while replacing and upgrading the deteriorated infrastructure for the rest of the property.

Current plans for the cafeteria include a senior center and the gym is being proposed as a multipurpose facility. Possibilities for the property include upgraded landscaping, an outdoor gathering space, a small amphitheater, meeting facilities, recreation room, an emergency evacuation center, kitchen area, laundry room facilities, exercise stations and walking trails designed especially for our senior residents.

“The demolition will remediate and abate the hazardous materials and dispose of the materials in accordance with EPA guidelines. This will ensure a clean and useful environment to be developed into a beautiful senior citizen multi-use facility,” stated Public Information Officer for the Village of Questa Jacob LaFore.

“The Mayor and Council recognize that community members have precious memories of the La Cienega School property and we wish that the entire facility could have been salvaged. However, to ensure the safety of our seniors and our community, necessary, difficult and decisive decisions needed to be made. The Village is grateful that the ‘jewel’ of La Cienega—the gym and the cafeteria—will serve the community and seniors for years to come,” LaFore continued.

“This building is personal to myself and many of our village council members. My mom taught here as did several other members’ parents. Our grandparents went to school here. Seeing that we can transition this property and portions of the building into something that can be used by our community is a big win for Questa,” Village Mayor John Ortega says. The mayor reiterates that the cafeteria and gymnasium are safe and contain no asbestos.

To view the La Cienega Gym Feasibility Report and the KEERS remediation environmental survey reports, please go to www.questa-nm.com and click on the links provided on the homepage.

If you have any questions regarding this project or any other upcoming projects within the Village of Questa, please contact the Village of Questa’s Public Information Officer Jacob LaFore at (575) 586-0694 or email him at jlafore@villageofquesta.org.

See page 16 to hear from locals who are passionate about this project.