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Development, housing issues addressed during forum

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City Manager Joe Neeb gives a presentation at the Ward 1 Public Forum at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center on Thursday evening. Neeb explained that citizens can use the FixIT Form to report various issues and it can be accessed on the city’s website under the ‘How Do I’ tab. (Alison Penn Photo)

A Ward 1 public forum Thursday night focused on downtown Roswell, development and housing issues.

The second city of Roswell forum of the year was held at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center with about four residents and upwards of 12 city employees in attendance. City councilors Barry Foster and Jeanine Corn Best were present.

The next public forum is set for the evening of April 18, in Ward 2, at Del Norte Elementary School at 2701 N. Garden Ave.

City Manager Joe Neeb announced Thursday that the city’s second annual report would be finalized and published next week. Drafted copies of the report were set on each table for attendees to review. Neeb said the report informs citizens about what their tax dollars paid for within the last year.

At the meeting’s beginning, Neeb and the only citizen present at the time had a conversation to choose which items to cover. During this conversation, the diverse economy of the city, the closing of Carl’s Junior and Cosmic Salad and attracting chains like Chick-fil-A or McAlister’s Deli were discussed.

Bill Morris, community development director, wrote down items to review by the request of citizens at the forum: Christmas lights downtown, revitalization of downtown and sanitation. Neeb explained the lights around the trees downtown during the holiday were put up by MainStreet Roswell and others; he added that the city has heard positive feedback and some desire to keep the lights year round.

Saying there is “growth all over” Roswell, Morris also shared new information on southside developments. He said the recently closed K-Mart, at 1705 S. Main St., may become a new site for U-Haul, while a pizza chain and a furniture store are on the radar near the closed Sears at 1000 S. Main St.

Neeb also said a retail trade study, to analyze current businesses, is in the works and will be performed by Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation. The end date is expected to be mid-June.

Condemnations, empty houses and the Town Plaza Apartments were also topics of discussion. In addition, Neeb reminded citizens of local laws, such as property maintenance and nuisance properties ordinances, that are under city council’s consideration.

One citizen shared disapproval for workforce housing — with concerns about what it could bring to his neighborhood — in the now empty lot where the Yucca Recreation Center once stood at 500 S. Richardson Ave. The citizen said he was in favor of having a park in that lot.

Neeb and Morris clarified that the property would not be low-income housing, but rather affordable housing for young professionals in education, public safety and the medical fields. For the development, Morris also explained the city intends to have a competitive request for proposals process; and to require reporting from managers of the workforce housing after it is inhabited.

Later in the evening, Tom Jennings, former mayor and Ward 1 citizen, read off a list with the following items: ward sizes, bike trail maintenance, apartments, nuisance properties, sidewalks and ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance, why water harvesting had not been used for landscaping at the convention center and the under-construction Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center, lack of maintenance at city facilities such as the closed Yucca Recreation Center and Cahoon Park Pool and other concerns.

In regard to sanitation, city officials addressed chemical and oil dumping at the landfill, touched on the grappler truck efforts and shared information about March Out the Trash, a month-long chance to spring clean for free on Saturdays. Also discussed was the Clean and Safe program, which offers opportunities for removal and disposal of derelict structures, which is going on from April until October.

For more information, residents can call Roswell City Hall at 575-624-6700.

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