In 2016, the City of Belen saw millions of dollars in projects that benefits our city economically.
Not only did we build a new Main Street overpass to help BNSF expand, but we also built a new runway at Belen Alexander Airport to bring United States Air Force training operations to Belen. There were lots of other projects, too. Big road projects and small ones. Big park improvements and small ones. We opened a business center. We had a successful Bugg Lights display, and while Anna Becker Park still isn't as decorative as it was in the 1990s, we got some reindeer shining bright there this year. The list goes on.
2017 will be better. First, we're creating businesses and jobs through the entrepreneurship of local innovators who are starting and expanding businesses. We also have companies coming from far and wide to Belen because of the strength in our transportation infrastructure -- roads, rail and the airport. Sure, growth has been slow -- and yes, we have a lot to make up for. Belen slid from being Valencia County's biggest and best to second best over the past two decades. But the slide has stopped, and we're starting to catch up.
What do we have to look forward to? In a few broad strokes:
- Several major road projects in areas of town that have been neglected for decades, including Martha Jean, San Lorenzo, La Luz, Campana and East Ross.
- Several major business announcements. As they caution me, let's not get ahead of ourselves or get too excited. But we need to be excited by the progress that's in the works, from the renovation of F&E Plaza tied closely to the expansion of two local businesses to some closely held major business prospects I can't yet give details about.
- A continuation of our maintenance improvements. Three years ago I set us toward beautifying the city. We've had some very determined successes and a few tough sites we're still working to improve. We'll get there.
In the coming few months, I hope to release a detailed plan for Belen to explain my vision for how Belen can fix many of its problems. After three years in office, I've learned a lot about how this town works -- and where it doesn't work. We'll work together -- as mayor and council -- to get the job done.