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Yucca Center demolition approved by council; Most recent request for proposals drew little interest

Pictured is the closed Yucca Recreation Center at 500 S. Richardson Avenue. (Alison Penn Photo)

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A second request for proposals for the Yucca Recreation Center was terminated last week by a vote of the City of Roswell, allowing the city to proceed with demolition of the 106-year-old structure.

The entire facility was partially closed four years ago and was closed entirely in 2016.

The full city council voted 8-2 with Councilors George Peterson and Angela Moore voting in opposition of termination of the RFP and demolition of the Yucca Center. Councilor Juan Oropesa made the motion and Councilor Steve Henderson seconded.

During a PowerPoint presentation at Thursday night’s meeting, City Engineer Louis Najar pointed out a photo of a trash can full of water from the Yucca’s leaking roof in December 2015. Najar said he is certain that more damage has occurred after “three years of storms and weathering.”

Najar reminded the council that the first RFP — seeking proposals for purchase and future development of the Yucca Center property — closed in January, and a revised and reissued RFP closed July 10. Najar said the only proposal received in response to the most recent RFP lacked detail and offered a quarter of the reserve price of $100,000. At last month’s infrastructure committee meeting, the vote was 4-0 to recommend termination of the RFP to allow for demolition.

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This Thursday six vendors will meet with the city to tour the Yucca Center and give the city quotes on the demolition. Najar said the city would expect a quote back within a week or two to present at the infrastructure committee meeting in September.

Najar, the project manager for the Yucca, said the hope is to create a competitive market to receive the best price — and if the quotes are unsatisfactory the city will seek bids for the work on the open market. Though $400,000 is allocated for the work in the solid waste fund, Najar said he is interested in keeping costs low.

To begin Thursday’s meeting, Oropesa made a motion to amend the agenda, to include the Yucca Center RFP matter as a regular agenda item rather than leaving it on the consent agenda, which contains a number of items councilors usually pass all at once.

“I just want to make sure that the community understands that just because we vote on this one tonight to pass for demolition that there is still an opportunity for anybody that would like to step forward and come and negotiate — that opportunity is there,” Oropesa said.

City Manager Joe Neeb said negotiations would be possible — but that needs to happen before the tour on Thursday. Neeb said negotiations would require meeting the reserve price, a plan for the property, and an efficient timeline.

“If there is any individual, I would just ask for it to happen very quickly because we need a resolution to the issue,” Neeb said.

“This has just been total agony,” Councilor Jeanine Corn Best said. “This is almost as bad as the Old (Municipal) Airport. It’s been constant nails on the chalkboard. We’ve made decision after decision to tear this building down. We’ve tried to appease the whole public. We’ve given RFPs out, we’ve given prices out on what to tear it down (for) — the longer it goes the higher the price is gonna go. We have to stop the madness. Please, let’s stop the madness.”

Best said the staff is doing the best they can do for Roswell and is being transparent.

“If the public wants to come to Louis (Najar), Elizabeth (Gilbert) or Joe (Neeb) and talk to them about why it’s being torn down or whatever the case may be, you have been living in a hole if you don’t know what’s going on,” Best continued. “We need to nip this in bud for the neighbor’s sake and for Roswell’s sake. We need to get this tore down. A vacant lot or park would be so much better than what these people are living with now.”

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