Home News Local News Civic duty, council approves negotiations with Spectra

Civic duty, council approves negotiations with Spectra

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City Councilor Barry Foster, left, said he would allow Juan Oropesa to chose heads or tails before City Clerk Sharon Coll flipped the coin to determine the mayor pro tem at City Council’s meeting on Thursday night after a tied vote. (Alison Penn Photo)

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At Thursday’s City Council meeting, newly elected City Councilors joined the governing body in a four-hour meeting, which included an election of the mayor pro tem position and going into negotiations for managing the Roswell Convention & Civic Center.

“I do want to welcome new councilors and I want to thank all of you for your desire to serve and your willingness to help Roswell prosper,” City Manager Joe Neeb said. “We’ve got a great community and together we are going to do marvelous things for our citizens and our city, so I want to thank you for that.”

The council nominated Ward 5 Councilor Barry Foster and Ward 1 Councilor Juan Oropesa for mayor pro tem. With the vote tied 5-5 twice, City Attorney Aaron Holloman said the choice would be made with a flip of a coin since Mayor Dennis Kintigh could not vote. City Clerk Sharon Coll tossed and caught the quarter and Oropesa was chosen for mayor pro tem.

A unanimous voice vote approved to allow the City Manager and Spectra Venue Management Company to go into negotiations for managing the convention center.

Juanita Jennings said that the process started in April, scope of service was submitted in November, and options to be city managed or the recommendation for Spectra were presented at Finance Committee in March.

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Saying timing is of the essence, Jennings said the city is months away from hosting the 61st annual New Mexico Municipal League with 700 attendees on August 26. Jennings said the convention center is lacking a computer system for leads, book, and marketing, a point of sales system for credit cards and a catering or concession option, which Spectra could implement if chosen. Spectra would also bring a general manager in and staff from their other facilities in Clovis and Las Cruces in addition to hiring locally.

Oropesa expressed concern about the facility not being finished and Jennings assured him that the project manager said it would be on schedule. Jennings shared the backup plan to use other city facilities in case an issue were to arise.

Jennings said the current facility made $44,000 in revenue with 62 events and with Spectra the estimated revenue is $430,000 with 210 events for one year.

Tom McDonnell, business development and client relationship director for Spectra Corporate, said Spectra manages 150 facilities across the country and four of them are in New Mexico. McDonnell said that on-the-spot and hands-on training would be available for Roswell Convention Center employees at the other Spectra managed facilities.

“We are not going to come into a facility unless we actually see an opportunity to grow the business and we do this a lot when we come into markets that are city run. This was a unique situation with some temporary staff,” McDonnell said.

Roebuck said the goal of a convention center was to bring in events for the citizens, generate revenue and provides a place for community activities. He asked Jennings if the civic center was moving more towards a convention center, which Jennings agreed. Stubbs said she hoped the city and the center would fulfill its obligation to those residing here and those visiting.

Shura Garnett, division senior vice president for Spectra, replied to Roebuck’s question about whether the civic center was becoming more of a convention center.

“I think the name of your venue speaks most impressively to that,” Garnett said. “While the additional space will allow you to entice a different set of events than what you previously been able to — the fact of the matter is that this will always have a grassroots feel. It will always need to have the support of the local community — not just for local civic events, but also for potential organizations that the community members belong to — that they want to bring the municipal league into their city because they are proud and they want to showcase their venue and their community.”

Addressing the fee schedule and the open catering policy, Garnett said the public will have to accept those changes but it should be gradual, which Jennings called a tiered approach.

Jennings said she felt very confident in working with Spectra to showcase what Roswell has to offer and recognizing the effort and time the company has spent traveling to Roswell from Philadelphia to tailor a proposal to the city.

“Talking with the Las Cruces Convention Center, I think they have a really good working relationship (with Spectra),” Jennings said. “They also have national partners that can only enhance — not only the convention center opportunities but the City of Roswell promotional events as well.”

Roebuck said he was leery about sending wealth out of Roswell and Oropesa said he would like to see the shortest contract possible to test Spectra’s work. Best said she was excited for the company to bring more training to locals. Stubbs said she supported the plan and would like to see more marketing initiatives emphasized in the center’s operations.

“The fact that these people have the experience, the fact that they are running successful operations in Clovis, Las Cruces and obviously up in Rio Rancho, gives us hope that we can do the same and we can be the same beneficiary of their good management,” Councilor Henderson said after reflecting management in the past. “So, I am certainly for this and I look forward to the success of this convention center.”

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.