Lack of a water supplier did not deter Eddy County from moving forward with plans to rehabilitate a nearly 70-year-old park north of Carlsbad, said Public Works Director Jason Burns.
He said watering the Happy Valley Park could create additional strain to the supply for users of the Happy Valley Water Cooperative. Burns said use of drinking water for commercial and recreational purposes was not an option as Eddy County planned to improve the park in 2023.
“If it’s a hotter year people use more water relatively. Same thing with the park. The park takes a lot more water than what you would expect,” Burns said.
Heath Willingham, president of the Happy Valley Water Cooperative board of directors, said Eddy County met all rules and requirements set by the board should it choose to use its water allotment for that purpose.
“They’re still a paying customer,” Willingham said.
Willingham said the county had not communicated with the Happy Valley Cooperative regarding watering plans for the park.
“(Happy Valley) water is allotted to the park, they just haven’t been using it,” he said.
Burns said Eddy County sought other options, including use of City of Carlsbad water and water from a private supplier.
“It’s been a challenge. We’ve identified a few sources that we’re looking into,” Burns said.
While the county waits to resolve the issue of water, Burns said demolishing certain portions of the park and cleaning up some of the playing surfaces could start in four to six weeks.
“We’ve already said we need to do something. We’re going to kind of go through a design-build approach with this and start working on it,” he said. “As we design it (and) kind of build it.”
Eddy County received help from MRWM Landscape Architects in Albuquerque developing a master plan for the park at 5899 Jones Street.
Happy Valley Park offers good quality of life
Former Eddy County Cooperative Extension Agent Woods Houghton is a resident of the Happy Valley area and offered input to Eddy County for design and potential irrigation plans on the park.
Houghton said parks and outdoor spaces in Carlsbad and Eddy County prompted he and his family to move to from De Baca County where he served as County Extension Agent. He spent nearly 30 years as Eddy County’s Extension Agent and retired nearly two years ago.
“That sets the tone. This is what we expect in our community,” Houghton said of outdoor community spaces.
Jeff Stuart, associate landscape architect with MRWM, said the park showed its age during a July public meeting in Happy Valley.
He said fading shade structures and rusting finishes and the park’s failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were among reasons to move forward with its rehabilitation.
Houghton said the aging park does not offer much for residents or out-of-town visitors these days.
“I used to take my grandkids down there. We don’t do that anymore. I would like to see that improved,” he said.