Elephant Butte business owners hold their breath for governor to reopen state economy | KOB 4

Elephant Butte business owners hold their breath for governor to reopen state economy

Ryan Laughlin
Created: May 12, 2020 10:23 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Business owners in Elephant Butte are on pins and needles waiting to hear whether Gov. Lujan Grisham will reopen the state’s economy Wednesday.

Some owners said if things don’t get back to normal soon, it may be too late.


“If the lake does not open up, I can guarantee you there are businesses that will go out of business in Sierra County,” said Nathan Lafont, owner of Elephant Butte RV Park.

Lafont said the RV park he runs has 130 spaces, but right now they are being forced to operate at 25% capacity.

"We have some business, and we're very fortunate in that sense, but, it's not sustainable,” he said.

During the summer months, the lake is the big economic driver in an area of the state that isn’t flush with cash.

"So many of the businesses are small, independent companies, owner operator and if they don't have that income they're going to go— they're going to close up and they'll never re-open,” Lafont said.

Some state parks have opened up for day-use only, but Lafont said that’s not the case for Elephant Butte—the largest state park in New Mexico. He said they are dependent on volunteers, many of which who have left the state during the shutdown.

"It's crazy and if it doesn't open up, there's going to be a lot of really hurting people in this community,” he said.

On Wednesday, he and everyone else in the hospitality industry will be waiting to see if occupancy percentage can increase. If it doesn’t, Lafont predicts more trouble.

"It's going to be really hard for these people to find a place to stay and if they don't have a place to stay, they're going to get creative. They're going to sleep in people's driveways, they're going to park illegally on streets. It's going to be a stinkin' mess,” he said.

Lafont said he hopes the governor will give businesses a heads up before they’re allowed to open so they can prepare accordingly.

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