Photo and text by Lisa Jimenez
A five-person, multi-disciplinary design assistance team from the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) based in Washington, D.C., toured five historic properties in Grant County Monday, including the Bayard Union Hall, pictured here. The union hall is one of five locations that comprise the Five Points Initiative of Southwest New Mexico ACT (swnmACT), a Grant County nonprofit organization dedicated to creative economic development based on preservation of local culture, history and the expansion of outdoor recreational opportunities.
The other four locations of the Five Points Initiative include the Bradley Hotel in Santa Clara, the old Hurley Schoolhouse, now known as Whiskey Creek Zocalo in Arenas Valley, the Waterworks Building in Silver City (also known as the Rock House), and the Hurley Train Station.
After spending the day touring these historic sites, the AIA team then gathered at Bear Mountain Lodge to participate in an online "community visioning session," then began the process of developing a preliminary plan for connecting these five locations together, while also tying in other recreational, cultural and historic resources in the county.
"There are some really phenomenal assets in Grant County," said AIA team leader Todd Scott. "We've been excited to see not only the five points, but other things too that really make this area special, including the incredible culture, the rich history and some really fabulous architecture. We're looking forward to developing a plan with the community that inspires people to really appreciate and celebrate the local culture and heritage."
AIA team members came to Grant County from all over the country to join local community leaders as well as swnmACT Director Lee Gruber and Bridgette Johns, program coordinator, to further develop and integrate the five points with other community resources such as Fort Bayard, local trail systems and other outdoor recreational facilities. The AIA teams' services are valued at some $180,000 and provided pro bono, thanks to a successful grant-writing effort by swnmACT. This design assistance team program of the AIA has worked with over 200 communities since 1964, and employs a "whole community approach" to help communities identify a local vision for the area's future, and create a strategy and set of actions to realize that vision.