A Great Idea That Went Off The Rails
This is the story of the Eco Park, a big piece of ground on Salazar Road on the south end, near where it meets Bertha Street. There were those that wanted to see soccer fields and for years there was debate about what to do and how to do it.
One thing led to another – or not – and nothing happened. And then someone my first cousin once removed, a middle age man from Florida who had a passion for soccer but no real experience in the sport beyond playing and being a fan, came to town and got the ear of the powers that be. This man, Joel Israel by name, strongly felt that Taos could create an important sports venue and all new income streams if they upped their game. His view was that we ought to build a world-class facility where teams would come to compete on tournaments to be organized and with that would come people who stayed in our hotels and ate in our restaurants. And a plan was created.
This led to the construction of one of only four 2 Star FIFA fields in this country and ours was at the highest elevation of any and with the best views. The politicians were quick to embrace the spotlight when the field was opened and teams from UNM and other colleges played games. But to hold a tournament one must have multiple fields and we had two more to build on the land available.
Then the world changed. Or the political winds. Or the recession. And the expansion and creation of those other two fields went away. Other priorities came first, the then Mayor said.
So what do we have out of all this? My view is we have the most expensive recreational soccer field in the country. And that is a huge waste of money, Like $2.5M. Joel Israel long ago moved on because of his frustration with those that make the decisions that made his vision impossible.
This can’t be the end of this story. The new Mayor and council need to look anew at this whole issue. What could have been a great new income stream and a part of a new identity for our town has been pushed aside. I for one think we need to revisit this. We need to put money into finishing what was started. I do believe the idea was a good one but we need to go back to that path that I think leads us to better days. At least for the Eco Park.