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City hosts public forum; Citizens say Ward 5 forum left them more informed and hopeful

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City Manager Joe Neeb walks through the aisles as he addresses citizens and as the agenda for the Ward 5 public forum on Tuesday night in the gym at Pecos Elementary School at 600 E. Hobbs St. Neeb said the city hosts two public forums in each ward annually. (Alison Penn Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The city of Roswell hosted a Ward 5 public forum on Tuesday night. Crime, sharing information with citizens, homelessness, speeding, smart water meters, economic development focusing on the south side of town, youth activities and more were discussed.

Around 12 citizens came in at various times throughout the meeting. The city staff was present to answer questions from the citizens. Ward 5 Councilors Barry Foster and Angela Moore were present along with Jeanine Corn Best, Judy Stubbs, Steve Henderson and Juan Oropesa.

One of the citizens asked the city to remember the south side of town when thinking about economic development and attracting businesses.

“It’s amazing that Roswell has a north and south. Everybody likes to make division however they want to do that. The thing is that we’re all Roswell all the way down to the airport, all the way up to Pine Lodge (Road).”

After showing the graphic of the infrastructure projects all over town, Neeb said the challenges are different between the perceived north and south sections of the town.

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Water Meters 

Councilor Juan Oropesa said he has been receiving calls about the smart water meter project and asked City Engineer Louis Najar for clarification on why citizens should call RTS Water Solutions about leaks or issues before they call the city. Najar said this contact process was agreed on contractually with RTS. If citizens call the city with water meter issues, Najar said the city reports it to RTS.

Najar said the smart water meters were implemented after studies on the old meters were conducted. Najar said the data showed that the meters were reading only 80 percent of the water actually dispensing to the citizens. Saying the city of Roswell is a business, he asked the citizens what they would do if their business showed such trends.

Najar explained the new technology and shared that the city would be able to see if someone was paying their water bill or not, if the meter was tampered with, and/or if there were other internal problems. Neeb said around 400 people don’t pay their water bill.

In another infrastructure issue that a citizen addressed, Najar said to stripe 740,000 feet of streets costs the city $70,000. He said the city tries to re-stripe annually.

Crime and speeding have been popular topics at the forums held in the last year. Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith said he is seeing benefit from the community outreach program and also shared information to citizens who know about crime but fear retribution. He said if citizens report this need, their testimony would warrant only to get an officer to the scene.

City Manager Joe Neeb repeated that only 5 percent of the population is actually committing crime. To take back the neighborhoods, Neeb said the city is looking to keep crime in check by persecuting those individuals criminally and civilly by paying attention to homes that are public nuisances.

For speeding, City Engineer Louis Najar updated the citizens on the traffic calming policy that the city is in the process of drafting. Najar said the city has looked at other cities’ traffic calming policies like Albuquerque, Alamogordo and Farmington. Najar said the city is looking into requesting that citizens in neighborhoods “buy in” to help financially with traffic calming measures.

Other information

As per request of a citizen, Juanita Jennings, the city’s public affairs director, said that the city sends out news releases to 36 media outlets, social media, posts fliers at public venues along with the community calendar and website. When she asked the citizens how they heard about the forum, the citizens said they heard about it at church and that word of mouth was important.

On the homelessness issue, Neeb said churches are the key to assisting the homeless in the city and that he has high hopes for the assistance provided by the Roswell Homeless Coalition.

One citizen asked if there was something for teens between ages 13 to 16 to keep them out of trouble besides the Boys & Girls Club. Sharing the new leadership at the Boys & Girls Club, Neeb also said there were plenty of sports and activities. A few of the citizens addressed that some of the teens stay away from activities based on lack of transportation or financial reasons.

“There were quite a few people here,” Delaina Franzoni, a citizen, said. “Everbody got to ask what their questions were or bring up what it is that’s concerning them. It was good to have the different people explaining how — see like the smart meters — I had never heard of that. I had no idea.”

Franzoni said she felt more informed and that forums were “good ideas.”

Other attendees and citizens Beverly and Edna Bradley, her mother, agreed the forum was beneficial and that their questions were answered. Beverly Bradley said she wanted her neighbors that could not attend to know about what transpired tonight. Saying she lives in the “Triangle” southeast of Kmart that is known for crime, she said her neighborhood feels like a forgotten one and that it’s important for the neighborhood to know that the city cares. Beverly Bradley said she wished drug abuse and penalties would have been specifically discussed. Both of the Bradleys said they would be interested in attending meetings in the future.

“I feel more hopeful now — I do,” Beverley Bradley said about the meeting. “It was positive.”

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