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Business partner forum creates dialogue with city

Alison Penn Photo A citizen shares his concerns and suggestions about the public transit system in Roswell at the business partnership forum on Monday. City Manager Joe Neeb stands next to the citizen-made agenda in the Basset Auditorium at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.

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On Monday, City Manager Joe Neeb and the city of Roswell hosted a business partnership forum.

In the Basset Auditorium at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, 60-plus attendees shared concerns and insights regarding being citizens as well business owners. The meeting’s agenda had a range of topics from lids on trashcans to business standards and codes.

“My belief in the city is that we are a service organization,” Neeb said during his presentation at the beginning of the meeting. “I serve you as citizens — as business owners. All of the employees that report underneath me serve you as well. The whole idea is to create that service mentality and say ‘How can we help you succeed better?’”

A few business owners voiced concerns over fire suppression and other statewide requirements that make it harder to have a business in Roswell.

Prompted by a citizen questioning about when airport parking will be charged, Neeb shared updates on the Roswell International Air Center. At this time he said the city is not paying a minimum rate guarantee for the Phoenix flight and is looking to expand the flights. A flight to Denver or a second flight to Phoenix is under consideration and he said the American Airline planes have increased from a 50 passenger plane to 70 passengers. Neeb said there is even talk about increasing it to 90 passengers.

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Improvements to the mass transit system were also discussed. One citizen suggested shaded coverings at the bus stops and Neeb said the city has heard requests for the routes to be posted at the stops.

Other citizens shared that business owners often fear retaliation if they complain to the city. Neeb said retaliation will not be tolerated by the city and that inspectors and staff will be encouraged to be kinder in dealing with the public.

A couple of citizens were asking for more consistency from the city’s code enforcement and building inspection as it pertains to businesses. State Representative Greg Nibert was present and said there is a public perception that it is harder for a business in Roswell.

Bill Morris, community development manager, and Neeb shared the city’s new initiative to combine building inspection, code enforcement and planning and zoning into the community development division to create cohesion.

Morris said he would offer trainings on the permit process and to alleviate concerns. In streamlining the process, Morris said the website will also be simplified.

To provide services for around 50,000 people in Roswell and 67,000 in the Chaves County area, Neeb said when citizens voice their concerns that elected officials can make stronger decisions. He said the elected officials are “fixers” and are listening for ways they can help the residents.

“You guys are important to the city’s success. We haven’t always done things as best as we could. I think that’s what I want to make sure that everybody is aware of this — we’re in a new world. Staff is going to do whatever they can to help. The City Council is going to do whatever they can to help. We want you to succeed because if you succeed then we succeed. It is as simple as that.”

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

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