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City officials field questions during public forum

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Alison Penn Photo Penny Briseno shares her concerns and first-hand experiences regarding accessibility in local restaurants with City Manager Joe Neeb at the Ward 3 public forum held at 408 N. Washington Avenue at Washington Avenue Elementary School on Monday evening.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The City of Roswell on Monday hosted its second public forum in Ward 3, allowing citizens to present topics of concern to city staff.

There were approximately 10 city staff and 12 citizens in attendance. Councilors Jeanine Corn Best, Angela Moore and Judy Stubbs were also present. Best thanked citizens for their attendance and Stubbs said she appreciated — as a councilor and citizen — City Manager Joe Neeb’s initiative to implement the forums.

After creating an agenda for the night, citizens asked about issues including the feral cat problem, street maintenance, speeding, sidewalks, street sweeper routes, code enforcement and ADA compliance in local restaurants.

Neeb said citizens should not view their requests as complaints — and that the city would rather have the information and be given the opportunity to do something.

 

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Animal Control

“A successful animal control program is education as well,” Neeb said. “It’s teaching the people to understand what the commitment and responsibility of handling these animals are. We get the bad job of having to go there and collect everybody else’s issue and so that is the challenge we have with that. We’ve been working on that a lot.”

Neeb said that animal control is part of the police department. Special Services Administrator Mike Mathews — who Neeb said will soon have a title change, to director of public safety — said the city was well aware of the feral cat problem and that hundreds of calls have been made regarding the issue. Mathews said the department is limited on the number of traps it can use and encouraged citizens who have their own to call the animal shelter and the city will pick up animals caught.

After saying he was open to suggestions and encouraging citizens to call him if they don’t receive a response, Mathews said the city is looking into different options and has been working for several years with local rescue organizations. In the past, Mathews said the cats would be caught, spayed and neutered, and released — which Mathews said cost a lot of money and was not effective. Mathews also said that citizens may be setting up feeding stations, which the city is on the lookout for — because that just draws in feral cats.

Neeb said said it feels like the city is managing dogs effectively, though overbreeding can be an issue, but cats are harder to adopt. Neeb said there will be some changes to animal control because the city believes it can do a better job in that area. He also said, “what is happening with all these animals is affecting all of us and that’s a fact.”

 

Speeding and streets

Citizens Richard and Yolanda Kimbrell asked for speeding on Alameda Street to be addressed and said they learned about the forum through their neighborhood watch program, which they coordinate. Richard Lucero, who is in charge of the neighborhood watch program, was present and Mathews said citizens can reach out to him to create or participate in a neighborhood watch program.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and I appreciate that they welcome the comments,” Richard Kimbrell said, and added that he felt as though his questions were answered. He said he’ll inform other citizens about the forums, so they may also be involved.

City Engineer Louis Najar shared information on the street and sidewalk condition survey, potential plans for a traffic calming policy, and other infrastructure projects. After thanking citizens for praying for rain, Najar said Union and Montana, the “Un-Tana” Project, will not be finished before July 4. He said workers will finish up what they can do now and take a break the week of the Fourth of July to allow people to attend the fireworks show, and as a safety route for fire trucks and police.

Saying the city is aware of the problem of the speeding on Alameda Street, Najar added there was a house on Wyoming Avenue and Alameda Street that was hit, and the owners of the house want something rigid to stop people from crashing into the house. Najar said he is not allowed to obstruct cars and that even light poles are designed to break if they are hit. Within the month, Najar said he will install larger speed limit signs in that area.

Najar also reminded citizens that traffic calming can only happen in residential areas and said to put a speed hump every 500 feet, on residential streets, would cost $4,600,000 to install.

After asking the citizens which streets they had concerns about, Najar explained the rotation of working on the streets because of the “misconception of improving the north more than the south of town.”

Neeb said one of the council’s top priorities is to double funds for street repair in the upcoming budget. One citizen said she had lived in two different places in the city and when she called about potholes they were fixed within the week.

After saying she had been in town for nine and a half years and that her street had not been maintained, Marilynn Briseno asked about street sweepers. Najar said there are three street sweepers operating with set routes. He also informed the citizens that each sweeper cost $380,000 and they start breaking down after three years.

“Actually, I really kind of liked the idea that they were willing to listen to what our concerns were and for the most part trying to address them,” Marilyn Briseno said. Bringing up the issue of the street-sweepers, she added that she was taking care of her parents at home when she noticed a street-sweeper “go around one block over and over again and not anywhere else.”

 

ADA requirements

Penny Briseno, Marilyn Briseno’s mother, said streets, speed and accessibility were reasons she came to the forum after she saw the announcement in the newspaper. Penny Briseno said her husband worked for the city for 41 years in the water department, so she knows how the city works. She also said she has lived in Ward 3 for 70 years and the neighborhood has not changed much, though there is an increase in traffic.

Penny Briseno also said it is difficult to enter restaurants because of her wheelchair, and named some restaurants that have makeshift access for those with disabilities. In taking her mother out in public, Marilyn Briseno said she has noticed the slope is sometimes too steep to take her mother backwards up a ramp.

Mathews said any citizen facing a similar issue should call the code enforcement department and provide the address and name of the business to allow the city to take a look.

Penny Briseno asked for other ways to have notice of the forums, besides the newspaper and Facebook, since some community members may not have access to either. Yolanda Kimbrell suggested posting notice of the meetings near high traffic areas.

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

 

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