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List of ‘priority projects’ clears committee

Roswell City Councilor Savino Sanchez, center, chair of the General Services Committee, casts a vote Wednesday in favor of a proposed resolution to prioritize athletics and recreation projects. Councilor Angela Moore also voted for City Council consideration of the resolution, while Councilor Juan Oropesa opposed it. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Resolution aimed at determining Roswell’s recreation, athletic facility needs

A proposed resolution meant to give clarity to city staff and legislators about the city’s top athletic and recreation facilities priorities was recommended by a Roswell City Council committee during a Wednesday meeting. It can be considered by all 10 city councilors during a future City Council meeting.

The matter was not without some controversy, however.

The draft resolution passed 2-1, with Councilors Savino Sanchez and Angela Moore voting yes and Councilor Juan Oropesa voting against it, saying he thought it was intended to circumvent the committee process. Committee member Jacob Roebuck was absent.

The resolution was the idea of Mayor Dennis Kintigh, who also consulted with some councilors and staff to come up with 2020 “immediate priority projects” — netting and improvements for the woman’s softball complex; creation of a park near the former Chisum Elementary; construction of a splash pad in Carpenter Park, which has already received $450,000 in state capital outlay funds; creating a youth baseball complex at Cielo Grande; and building an “all-inclusive” park for children with special needs, ideally near Cielo Grande. The resolution also includes a “future priority projects” list for work in later fiscal years.

“I stress again that you as a council are free to change, delete or add,” Kintigh said about the project list.

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He said one of the aims is to give staff a clear direction about which projects they should focus on to complete planning studies, engineering analyses and other professional services so that councilors could make better decisions about the work, costs and schedules involved in projects. Another point of the resolution is to give legislators a clearer idea about city needs.

“I think we as a governing body need to more clear in our communication with our legislators: these are the things we think are important,” he said.

He added that it would prevent the type of problem that garnered concern during the first part of the meeting, an approved $4,500 engineering design project to put up netting around the spectators’ area of the women’s softball field that was approved by a committee but was never acted on. Sanchez indicated that the project has been discussed for at least six years, and he expressed frustration that the project was dropped without a clear understanding of why.

City staff also clarified that the resolution would be in addition to the required Capital Improvement Plan, the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan and the top five capital project priority list, which councilors vote on each year.

The Capital Improvement Plan is a comprehensive list of all known upgrades, renovations and construction needed on city properties. The ICIP is given to state legislators to indicate five years of needed capital projects. The top five priority list outlines which projects the city considers the most important for funding.

Oropesa made some strong statements against the resolution.

“Honestly, Mr. Mayor, I don’t trust the system,” he said. “I really don’t. I’ve seen how it has worked in the past. This is another way of trying to get some kind of process in there without going through the process, the committee, whatever the process is. This is a back-door type of trying to get certain projects into the system, in my opinion.”

He explained that, while not codified, the general process established for city governance is that matters approved by committees are forwarded to the City Council for consideration, while matters voted down in committee are not supposed to be advanced as they were presented.

But, he said, Kintigh or others have sometimes ignored the recommendation of the committees, choosing to forward or remove items from City Council agendas contrary to what committees decided. Oropesa added that he thinks committees are the appropriate bodies to vet proposed projects.

After about 50 minutes of discussions, Moore made the motion for the committee approval, which Sanchez seconded. But Moore said she did have some reservations.

“I don’t have a problem with the resolution,” she said. “I have a problem with the list.”

She said that, with reassurance of further discussions and input about which projects are on the list and how they are ranked, she supported moving the resolution forward to the City Council.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.