Population, 2015: 5,189
Area: 6.1 square miles
Location: On the east side of the Rio Grande / 35 miles south of Albuquerque
The City of Rio Communities became the 105th municipality in New Mexico in 2013. It is nestled along the winding Rio Grande River in Southeastern Valencia County, less than an hour from Downtown Albuquerque and the Albuquerque International Sunport (Airport). Rio Communities has a rural atmosphere and offers affordable housing to its residents. A major attraction is the Tierra Del Sol Golf Club, which has an 18-hole golf course and an adjoining housing community. La Merced Elementary school is located to the north of the main residential development in Rio Communities. PNM opened the Rio Communities Solar Energy Center in 2015, which is the largest solar plant in Valencia County, and can generate the amount of electricity used by 4,000 residential customers.
Rio Communities has an Industrial Park with rail spur access situated along State Highway 304.
Major Private Employers: Clariant Healthcare Packaging; and Aristech Acrylics.
In the pre-colonial period, as many as five Tiwa (or Tigua) Indian pueblos thrived in the area that extends from present day Rio Communities and Casa Colorada in the south, to Isleta Pueblo in the north. In addition, the proximity to the El Camino Real (The Royal Road) route traveling to and from Mexico (New Spain) supported the settlement of thousands of Spaniards during the 1600s. Settlements occurred primarily along the fertile flood plain of the Rio Grande valley, which was suitable for raising livestock and cultivating crops. Subsequent stage lines, such as the Santa Fe Trail, brought American settlers to the area. Valencia County was one of the oldest settled areas of the United States, and it wasn’t created until 1844. The land that later became Rio Communities was part of the Tomé Spanish Land Grant of 1858. The railroad in the late 1800s expanded the American frontier and supported further settlement in the area.
In the early 1960s, Horizon Corp. bought 241,000 acres of undeveloped land in Valencia County along the east bank of the Rio Grande, near the city of Belen, and approximately 35 miles south of Albuquerque. The land was subdivided into small developments with such names as Tierra Del Sol, Rio Grande Estates, Rancho Rio Grande East and West, the Enchanted Mesa and Playa Verde. The land was further divided into quarter and half acre lots suitable for large and unique single-family homes, to be supported by schools, churches, and parks.
The local government consists of a Mayor; a municipal judge; and city councilors who are elected to four-year staggered terms.
Water: New Mexico Water Service Company
Source: Ground water
Sewer: New Mexico Water Service Company
Solid Waste: Private collection and landfill services (Waste Management, Valley Disposal, AC Disposal)
Electric: Public Service Company of New Mexico
Natural Gas: New Mexico Gas Company
Transportation: Rio Metro
Cable/ Internet: Comcast
Roads: New Mexico State Routes 47 and 304, and the Manzano Expressway
Interstate highways: I-25 (north-south) and I-40 (east-west)
Air: Albuquerque International Sunport, passenger and freight
General aviation: Alexander Municipal Airport
Commuter rail: New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Belen to Albuquerque and Santa Fe
Freight: Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad
Transit: Rio Metro Valencia Dial-a-Ride
K-12: Belen Consolidated School District
Higher education: University of New Mexico Valencia campus
Rio Communities offers many of its own amenities and recreational opportunities:
Bicycling: NM Route 304, which runs south from Rio Communities on the east side of the Rio Grande, is a bicycle-friendly road.
Wildlife: The Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area is open to the public and provides opportunities to view waterfowl and other wildlife. A visitor center is open on Fridays and Saturdays. The La Joya State Game Refuge and the Bernardo Refuge, further afield, offer similar activities.
Golf: The Tierra Del Sol Golf Club offers a semi-private 18-hole course with panoramic views of the Manzano Mountains and the Rio Grande bosque.
Fishing: The Rio Grande is stocked several times a year by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Cultural Attraction: The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is located to the southeast of Rio Communities.
Recreation: Trails along the riverside drainage of the Rio Grande attract walkers, joggers, and horse riders. The Manzano Mountains offer hiking, picnic facilities, and outdoor recreation.