The benefits of enhancing cultural preservation in Las Cruces were discussed by the Las Cruces City Council and the chair of the City’s Historic Preservation Commission during a Council work session Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St.
A Commission recommendation to dedicate City funding for the maintenance of city-owned historic facilities was stressed during a presentation to the Council. Faith Hutson, chair of the City’s Historic Preservation Commission said doing so would be in support of Elevate Las Cruces, the Council-adopted comprehensive plan which identifies where and how Las Cruces should grow, based on a community-defined vision and assessment of past and current development patterns.
Some of the more prominent city-owned historic facilities include the Amador Hotel, which has served the community in many different ways since the 1870s; Branigan Cultural Center, which is housed in a 1935 Pueblo Revival-style building; the former U.S. Courthouse and U.S. Post Office, opened in 1917 and listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties; the Woman’s Improvement Association Building, the headquarters of the first women’s club in Las Cruces; the Railroad Museum, which is housed in a 1910 Mission Revival-style building that was Las Cruces’ train station for many years; and the Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center, which was designed and built in 1907 by renowned architect Henry Trost.
The Commission’s presentation to City Council was aimed to inform and update the Mayor and City Council about the state of preservation efforts in Las Cruces, the potential economic benefits of preservation planning, and the Commission’s accomplishments since it was established in early 2020.
Additionally, City Council received a presentation on the state’s Public Defender program by lawyers with the Law Office of the Public Defender Commission in Las Cruces.
In 1973, the New Mexico Legislature enacted the New Mexico Public Defender Act to meet the state’s constitutional obligations to provide legal counsel to indigent persons charged with crimes in state courts. The Act provided for a Public Defender structure with state appropriated funding and a centralized administration.
The Las Cruces Law Offices of the Public Defender is one of 10 offices the Commission has in New Mexico. There are 20 lawyers and 20 additional staff members, including investigators and social workers, who work with the community and available resources to develop long-term systemic solutions to crime and its root causes.
The Law Offices of the Public Defender Commission is dedicated to alternative dispositions that help their clients. Public defenders also try to help address underlying issues that bring clients to the criminal justice system.
The Council was told many clients represented by public defenders have substance abuse and mental health problems and suffer from drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The Law Offices of Public Defender Commission helps clients find medication, treatment, court programs, community services and housing to decrease arrests, incarceration, and hospital stays.