Racetrack developer never really got out of the gate

When the New Mexico Gaming Control Board revoked La Mesa Racetrack and Casino developer Michael Moldenhauer’s gaming license last week it really came as no surprise.

No one wanted this to happen, but if you followed the story over the past year you saw it coming.

Week in and week out Moldenhauer was pressed with issues facing the $50 million project that was supposed to open in Raton sometime in the near future.

See, that’s part of the problem. Even Moldenhauer couldn’t look you in the eye and say when the project would be finished and the gaming begin. Odds are he didn’t know himself and that eventually is what prompted the gaming commission to pull the plug.

That’s too bad for Raton and all of Colfax County because it desperately needs a project of this magnitude — one that promised to employ 300 people when the actual horse racing began.

Our county ranks in the top 10 for unemployment in the state so this would have been the needed boon we were looking for.

Moldenhauer was more of a newsmaker for troubles facing the massive project than successes. If he wasn’t missing deadlines or mixed up with shady business partners, it was paperwork not being addressed or construction liens halting work on the project.

We don’t think he ever submitted the proper evidence to the commission that he had financing in place to build the racetrack and casino.

But Moldenhauer is not alone when it comes to developers touting expensive projects in the works.

What happened to Angel Fire Village South and the hotel and restaurants and shops it promised? Last we heard it was in foreclosure.

How about the 300 to 400 affordable home project slated for Eagle Nest? Last we heard the timing is wrong.

Developers will come and go. And at times we all fall willfully ignorant to their grandiose visions.

Always remember when a developer receives site plan approval for a project it’s the job of the media to report those plans, but until a project is complete, anything could go wrong. Development is a risky business that can pay off.

Developers are not criminals. We just need to take what they say they are doing with cautious optimism and hope they accomplish their goals. And in the end, if they do, we hope it fits our communities’ goals and vision.