Volunteers propel the Waterworks Building project to its next phase – Silvercity Daily Press

Volunteers propelled the Irrigation Buildings project to the next phase
(Special Photo)
Volunteers Rich Bigelow, Bob Schiowitz, and Kenny Moon worked to replace the fascia on the north gable of the Waterworks Building recently, thanks to a Genie S-65 boom lift, the use of which was donated by Runyan Construction. The future development of the Continental Divide Trail layover station and community meeting space is a collaborative effort, managed jointly by the city staff of Silver City and Southwest New Mexico ACT.

Daily Press Correspondent
Realizing a vision as grand as the one spanning the historic Waterworks Building literally takes a village.
This latest advance in this “for the community and by the community” initiative on Little Walnut Road was made possible by a crew of volunteer tradesmen coordinated by retired contractor Rich Bigelow. More than 500 volunteer hours have been logged in recent months as volunteers have rebuilt doors, replaced signage, and made major repairs to the exterior of the 1887 building, which meant braving chilly winter winds, often in excess of 35 feet. off the ground.
Bigelow, an active hiker and supporter of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, said he contacted Lee Gruber, founder and director of the Southwest New Mexico ACT, asking how he could help. He eventually agreed to organize a work crew, which included Bob Schiowitz, Steve Collie, Mitch Barsh, Fred Fox, Doug Gorthy, Joshua Burke and Leroy Apodaca.
“I’ve always loved this building,” he says, “and now that I’m retired, I have time to help restore it. This is an amazing project, and I’m happy to help.”
Many hands make light work, as is the vernacular, and fortunately there are many willing hands to participate. Scaffolding was loaned for the venture by Mike Roberts of Havens Construction and Jeff Cramm of Cramm Construction Company. Suzanne Gershenson from B&S Construction and Design handled the building permit, and the use of the Genie S-65 boom lift was donated by Runyan Construction. Others who have helped along the way include Outback Construction, Zeb Clark, Brent Flenniken, Mike Sauber, and Kenny Moon.
Countless time and other material contributions have been made by individuals and area businesses. Kuester Well Drilling, for example, donated $2,000 worth of iron drill pipe, which was used as upright supports for the now completed 25-by-35-foot education pavilion.
“I know I speak on behalf of everyone close to this initiative when I thank all the volunteers who have been generous with their time, talent, equipment and goodwill,” said City Manager Alex Brown. “This project is truly extraordinary and will be a showcase for residents and visitors alike. It was incredible.
Sustainable local economic development is also a key component of this community-based project. As such, more than 25 local businesses have been contracted by the city of Silver City to complete various other parts of this multifaceted initiative, which will eventually serve as a stopover destination for walkers and cyclists on the Continental Divide Trail, with campsites, composting toilets, and solar. -powered showers, community kitchens, gathering areas, and a heritage center, where locals and visitors alike can learn about the region’s rich cultural diversity.
The landscaping itself, featuring native plants and fruit trees, as well as rainwater catchments, swales and other water conservation features, was a major undertaking, and was designed and maintained by Stephanie Celin, with assistance from a crew of individuals including Eric Brown, Matt Leef and Christine Dalmedo.
Ronald Hartley, owner of Enchanted Touch, a City of Silver landscaping business, was tasked with creating a beautiful campsite that offered a sense of privacy, and general contractor Steve Shatzkin of Shatzkin Enterprises has taken time out of his “super busy” schedule to build a composting toilet, which features corrugated metal. beautiful patina that was salvaged from the property.
The 5-acre public property will also be open to locals who wish to try camping before venturing into more distant areas, and as an outdoor classroom and meeting space for social gatherings.
The first campground area is nearly complete, including seven locations in total. The second camping area will host up to 15 additional campsites near the Silva River, which forms the property’s western boundary. A pedestrian bridge crosses the Silva Creek Botanical Gardens, which is a former brownfield site that has been developed and lovingly maintained over the years by the Crazy Native Plant Society, a collaborative partner with the city and swnmACT.
Youth has also been involved in the effort from the start, both through the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program and Youth Conservation Corps students from Aldo Leopold Charter School. Since 2020, these young people have logged nearly 9,000 hours building trails, cleaning and maintaining trails, helping with gardening and landscaping, restoring old picnic tables for on-site use and even creating a dirt cob “wave wall” that serves as a backdrop. for the campsite and respecting the original historic land use.
Silver City Waterworks provided the city’s first municipal water supply. Water is drawn from a subsurface collection gallery, a tunnel under the adjacent Silva Creek arroyo that drains into a well connected to a hole 30 feet deep beneath the building. Water was pumped from the Waterworks to a reservoir on a nearby hill, and from there flowed into the city.
The next major phase of this local, community-driven effort was the renovation of the interior of the Gedung Air Building, or “Stone House”. The city recently received a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service, plus a total $1 million state capital expenditure fund to complete the renovation of this historic building, which will become a cultural heritage center.
James Marshall, assistant city manager and key staff member for the initiative, said the funds will be used to improve building codes for residences, with new walls, updated plumbing and electrical, Americans with Disabilities Act-approved restrooms and retail space. potential. A patio area will also be added on the west side of the building. Desert Peak Architects from Las Cruces is expected to submit architectural drawings this spring.
The cultural heritage center will offer history lessons to visitors, showcasing the rich cultural diversity of the region, from the Mimbreño culture to the Apache, Spanish, Mexican and European. Retail space within the center will cater to visitors and local residents alike, creating new opportunities for area businesses—especially recreation-oriented establishments such as bicycle rentals, camping and hiking gear, and perhaps a small coffee shop or restaurant.
For more information about the project, contact Bridgette Johns, project coordinator, at 575-654-3969 or [email protected]
Lisa Jimenez is contracted by the city of Silver City as a freelance writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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