Their view: Governor right to slow down a rush to build

This is an editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican on a proposal to consolidate several state offices:

News that state legislators have moved $4 million from a proposed super-government complex to remodel the Manuel Lujan Building instead is good for state taxpayers and Santa Fe. The decision continues the temporary reprieve from a proposal to combine several state offices — Human Services; Children, Youth and Families; Health and Aging; and Long-Term Services — in one location.

Under former-Gov. Bill Richardson, that location was to be at Las Soleras south of town, near the outlet mall. We have been consistent in opposing the project. Moving so many workers away from town would contribute to sprawl and hurt local businesses. It’s a bad idea, both from an urban planning and an economic standpoint. The cost of this super-complex was also excessive — $200 million, too rich for the times.

So far, Gov. Susana Martinez has been deliberate in trying to decide where, and if, to combine state offices. Her due diligence is praiseworthy. Already, her decision to ask for more time to consider Las Soleras will mean that taxpayers should avoid shelling out $6 million to buy the land south of town. That’s a big savings. Instead, her administration is considering a site close to the Department of Transportation on Cerrillos Road — where the state already owns the land. That site, should it have enough room, definitely wouldn’t add to sprawl. It already has the necessary Rail Runner stop for commuting workers and has the added advantage of keeping state workers near shops and restaurants. In town, they contribute to the economy of Santa Fe.

In addition to reconsidering the site, Gov. Martinez also should rethink whether a super-complex is the best way to go. Is bigger always better? A combination of building and renting could save the state money while at the same time preserving flexibility for the future.

For the moment, the move to refurbish the Manuel Lujan Building is a smart use of construction money while a decision is made on the super-complex. And good for Martinez for putting the brakes on this expensive and ill-thought-out boondoggle.