There is a strong effort underway to disincorporate the City of Sunland Park, New Mexico.

While it is easy to understand the frustrations of Sunland Park citizens over what seems a long history of corruption and vast mistakes in judgement by city officials, the move to disincorporate could have drastic results for the city's residents.

Rather than put together a slate of candidates for public office who would clean house and fight corruption from within government while maintaining city services, a group has decided that, for them, enough is enough and that they feel it is easier to disincorporate instead.

But what one must consider is what could be potentially lost in disincorporation.

Sunland Park has professional police and fire departments. They keep the city safer from criminal activity and from potential disaster of fire and other emergencies. 

One has to wonder how much criminal activity would increase, from drug sales and use to break-ins and even more serious crime if there is no local police department to quickly respond. I've personally seen how quickly the Sunland Park police department responds to a call and, frankly, have been impressed.

Those who would disincorporate say the fire department was all volunteer just a few years ago and that the county could take over the operation of bothdepartments. However, the sheriff of Dona Ana County has already stated his department is stretched too thin to provide timely protection for the county already. Add Sunland Park to the primary service mix, and one wonders how long the wait would be for police and fire services.

Losing full-time, professional fire protection could affect homeowner insurance rates. The quality of a trained, professional force is a factor for insurance companies in setting rates. Sunland Park has good equipment and undergoes regular training for emergency services. It appears to be one of the services Sunland Park offers that, along with police protection, really works.

Even a question exists about who would pay for street lights in the city. While some of those who favor disincorporation complain they don't have street lights in much of the city, new subdivisions such as Edgemont, The Grove and others do have streetlights that were installed by the developers and then given along with the subdivision roads to the city to maintain. Sunland Park collects new tax revenue from these new subdivisions.

One wonders what would happen to other city activities. The Sunland Park athletic complex on McNutt road could be affected. Who will maintain the park? Will Dona Ana County do this? What about the small public library the city operates?

The uncertainty of the situation makes disincorporation seem a risky option.

If people are really upset with the corruption (and there is no denial Sunland Park has a troubled past as evidenced by the state takeover in the recent past, it is time to find incorruptible candidates for office and take back the city.

Those who are pushing disincorporation are being advised by a non-Sunland Park resident who lives in the County Club compound and fears annexation of his neighborhood the additional taxes he might have to pay. Kraig Carpenter, listed as advisor to the group,  was one of the people pushing incorporation of the new Village of Santa Teresa this year as a way to avoid annexation. He even threatened to push disincorporation as one of his strategies if Sunland Park annexed the area around the Santa Teresa Country Club.

But he earlier told The Santa Teresa News that he dropped out of the group seeking incorporation after disagreements on how to continue seeking the new Village of Santa Teresa after concerns over the costs of a required census to determine if enough people lived in the proposed village limits.

And Sunland Park is not yet seeking annexation of Carpenter's home.

The new group seeking disincorporation is pushing for signatures for its petition at local locations in Sunland Park, including the Santa Teresa Postal Station on McNutt road.  The web site Shut TheParkDown.org also is operated by the group and lists, besides Carpenter and three Sunland Park residents and their phone numbers. The petitioners are Jorge Motta, Sam Gutierrez and Penny Gray. their contact numbers, as well as Carpenter's, are on their web site. 

Perhaps the real residents of Sunland Park can rise up and make changes without taking such a potentially dangerous activity as disincorporation.