July 11 First News: SF City Council approves a new, small park downtown. (listen)

  Santa Fe City Council has moved to create a new, small park downtown adjacent to the Water street parking lot.  The 240 square foot area will be known as Cerletti Park, named for the late Tourism Secretary Mike Cerletti who had also managed the St. Francis Hotel just across the street. In other action, the governing body denied a density-rezoning request made by the Civic Housing Authority regarding some vacant land off Siringo Road.  The Authority was seeking to create new rental units, some of which would have been part of the city’s affordable housing program.

As feared, heavy summer rains have caused flooding in the Pecos Canyon in the aftermath of last month’s Tres Lagunas Fire. That more-than-10,000 acre blaze left behind denuded hillsides and fire debris. An afternoon storm caused the Brush Ranch to be swamped with four or more feet of mud after dropping an inch of rain within 45 minutes. The entire Pecos Wilderness remains closed to the public until further notice.

Tonight's planning commission hearing over a proposal to commercially develop the empty Manderfield Elementary School in the historic district has been canceled in the wake of complaints from the community. Local residents say the rezoning plan that was to have been presented tonight could lead to more and different uses for the property than the plan the developer had presented at neighborhood meetings.  The old school is on Canyon Road next to Christo Rey church.

In Albuquerque today, there will be an unofficial opening of the new $30 million Downs Racetrack and Casino featuring the site's restaurant, bar and casino. The Grand opening is set for next month when the racetrack will start running. Privately funded, the gaming facility is the only one within Albuquerque city limits.

Former Santa Fean and political activist Adam Kokesh is to be arraigned in a Virginia court today after being arrested for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms while also possessing a firearm. Kokesh had posted a YouTube video on July 4th allegedly showing him loading a shotgun while at Washington, DC’s Freedom Plaza – a violation of law –and saying the government will not be allowed to destroy humanity. The Iraq war veteran made an unsuccessful 2010 bid to be the republican nominee for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.

Virgin Galactic LLC, the company that will be offering space tourism flights out of New Mexico’s Spaceport America, has a new president in Steven J. Isakowitz.  He’s previously served as the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. His resume boasts several significant posts including Deputy Associate Administrator for a NASA program. Isakowitz also served as Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Energy through two presidential administrations.

Weather for Santa Fe – Partly sunny today, a high in the upper 80s and a 40% chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms.  Where storms do occur, there may be periods of heavy rain as they will be slow-moving. Precipitation probabilities decrease to just 20% tomorrow.