Playground project red-tagged over unlicensed contractor

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CHIMAYO, N.M. (KRQE) – For months, the small community of Chimayo has seen a playground rise at the La Arboleda Community Center that tops anything currently on offer there now. There’s a tall tower, shiny new slides and plans for basketball courts. It didn’t start out as such a big idea.

“We started with some fencing and some landscaping,” said John Paul Romero, a management director with Rio Arriba County. “During the development of the project the commission found more money so they decided, let’s make this a bigger better project.”

But as that $50,000 project became an $850,000 project, nobody bothered to make sure the contractor doing the job was able to do the expanded work until months later. That contractor, Enchantment Painting and Fencing, isn’t licensed or qualified for the concrete work needed.

KRQE News 13 investigative reporter Kim Holland called the state to ask about the contractor and whether the situation was legal. A day later, an inspector came out and red-tagged the playground project, putting everything on hold. The state wants to make sure the work that’s already being done out there is safe and that the county brings on a contractor who can legally do the work.

“We didn’t do enough checks and balances,” said Romero, who was recently hired. “They brought me on board to make sure that we have the right checks and balances as we move forward…. These are public funds so we want to make sure that this project is done in accordance with the public laws.”

The county says it’s retained a new contractor who has the needed license and qualifications to complete the project.

KRQE News 13 attempted to reach Enchantment Painting and Fencing at its listed business address in Espanola, but nobody answered the door to answer our questions.

The county hopes to have the full project done by mid-May.

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