City of Belen applying for funds to build an eco-friendly facility

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The city of Belen is searching for funds to build a facility that would turn the Hub City into an eco-friendly community while employing locals and producing food and clean water.

Belen City Councilors approved a resolution last month to apply for a $50,000 grant through the New Mexico Finance Authority for a feasibility study that would not only identify financing options for a sustainability facility along Interstate 25, but determine if this park is feasible at that site.

The Eco-Technology Park with a Renewable Energy Efficiency Food and Fuel Facility would be on a donated 16-acre site south of CEMCO Inc., said Steve Tomita, the city's economic development director.

The park will create a sustainability model for other rural communities to follow that would create job opportunities by applying technologies that use renewable energy and waste recycling, increase local food supply and provide clean water, the resolution states.

The privately-operated facility also would provide employment training for the facility by partnering with educational institutions.

This project would serve as a pilot project for the entire state, Tomita said.

"We're trying to create jobs locally and we're taking what we develop here to other communities throughout New Mexico, so they can start creating the same thing — a sustainable community," he said.

Part of the grant would pinpoint communities throughout the state where similar facilities can be built.

The 15 percent match required from the city for this grant will be paid for by Creative Consulting Partners, LLC, and Agregy Renewables, LLC.

The facility would include an area for these Ecoponex Technologies to generate food, energy and clean water, a testing facility for emerging energy and a training facility for local residents.

Municipal waste and dairy farm waste would be re-used through a variety of techniques, including a solar thermal heat engine that changes low temperature energy into electricity, a solar thermal membrane distillation and vapor compression distillation to clean water and tire recycling that separates the material into crumb rubber and polished steel.

Belen officials are partnering up with the city of Leeuwarden in The Netherlands for an International Technology Trade and Education Exchange Mission to discuss how to address a number of environmental, energy and economic needs of New Mexican rural communities, such as Belen, and their farms.

Tomita said The Netherlands has implemented facilities, such as the one proposed, to solve similar challenges.

In a letter to Leeuwarden's Mayor Ferd Crone, Belen Mayor Rudy Jaramillo proposed to send a group of local representatives to meet with Leeuwarden officials in late September to discuss "the latest thoughts and research/development impacting communities and farms in relation to local healthy food production, cultivation of micro-algae and crops for human and animal nutrition, renewable energy from municipal (and farm wastes), and water quality, especially as they effect both our cities."


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.