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Las Crucens Irritated With Private Gate Blocking Public Path

A private property owner in Las Cruces is blocking a public path, paid for with taxpayer dollars, with a gate.

Bill Cupit owns the property that runs adjacent to the new multi-use path in West Las Cruces. He told ABC-7 the gate was there long before the city got the idea to build there.

“We don’t intend for it to shut off the pedestrian traffic, but at this time if we open the gates, it will let the car traffic through and I don’t want them through my orchard or through the road here and damage or hurt some of the people on the path,” Cupit said.

The new path runs along the back of Cupit’s property and there is no fence to stop people from walking on his property or stealing pecans from his trees. He said his main concern is cars driving through the path, especially if pedestrians and bikers are using it.

“We use it ourselves. We prefer that everybody use the path. There’s actually a trail going around it right now if you don’t want to go underneath the gate, but at this time if they can use that temporarily until the contractor comes back I think that’s fine,” Cupit said.

Las Crucen Tim Sanders rides his bike along the new path with his dog, Abby, a few times a week.

“It’s just a good way to get exercise for myself and my dog so we try to ride for about an hour. Then I see a lot of people along the path too and they stop and visit so it’s really a friendly environment,” Sanders told ABC-7.

Sanders admits the gate creates an inconvenience when he’s riding through.

“It’s a bit of an obstacle. You have to work your way around it,” Sanders said. “The city ought to have the ability to exercise their easement rights and have the gate removed and put in vehicle barriers like they’ve done elsewhere.”

Cupit said he’s been cooperating with the city since he found out about the path, but no one contacted him before construction began.

“That’s the problem. They didn’t notify any of the owners. Maybe they did up there in the congested commercial areas, but here in the residential and farming community they hadn’t,” Cupit said.

Cupit said he negotiated a deal with the city to remove the gate as long as they put in spaced-out posts to block vehicles from passing through.

Public Works Director Loretta Reyes told ABC-7 the city is fully aware of the gate blocking the path. Reyes said the path is still under construction and technically people are not supposed to be using it yet.

She said the city is planning on to take the gate down.

“We are working with him to place those bollards in strategic locations, and then also to maybe fence the area to create a barrier for those motorized vehicles so they won’t just go around and hop on to that path,” Reyes said.

In the meantime, some bike riders said the gate will not stop them from using the path.

“We just find a way around it. It’s no big deal. We just get off and push around it,” one cyclist told ABC-7.

Reyes said a population of Burrowing Owls in the area is actually slowing down construction. The city is waiting until the birds’ mating season is over so construction does not disrupt them.

Reyes said the gate should be removed by the time the path is done in November.

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