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Proposed name change met with controversy

Geothermal Drive extends east from I-25 past the entrance to the golf course. The street name will soon change to Tortugas Trail. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

Geothermal Drive, a road on campus extending from I-25 to Tortugas Mountain, will be renamed Tortugas Trail. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu proposed the name change to the NMSU Board of Regents on Monday, Oct. 17, and the motion passed 3-2.

The road is significant to indigenous communities in the area such as Tortugas Pueblo, also known as La Corporación de Los Indígenas de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, located south of campus. Since the establishment of the 36-acre Aggie Uptown retail and housing project, NMSU has been criticized for planning developments in the area without regard for tribal nations. 

The name change was suggested to NMSU leadership by Tortuga Pueblo President Bill Acosta. Arvizu believes changing the name is a gesture of inclusivity and recognition of tribal connections to Tortugas Mountain. 

Two regents, Neal Bitsie and Dina Chacón-Reitzel, voted against the name change saying it could detract from the university’s original plans for Aggie Uptown. Chacón-Reitzel reportedly said, “Our mission and our charge for these properties is that they are for agriculture, for education, for education and for scientific research,” she said, “and so anything that might interrupt our mission, our core mission, concerns me.”

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