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Project priority list returns to committee

City Councilor Angela Moore, left, and City Councilor Juan Oropesa are pictured at the June 13 full Roswell City Council meeting. (Alison Penn Photo)

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The Roswell City Council decided to table a proposed resolution prioritizing recreation projects.

At the June 13 full council meeting, City Councilor Savino Sanchez, chairman of the General Services Committee, introduced the resolution, saying it could provide focus for the city and council on projects — to finish the prioritized projects before working on others. Sanchez made the original motion and Councilor Barry Foster seconded.

City Auditor Juan Fuentes, also the staff liaison for General Services, said the resolution “memorializes intent to move forward with planning and prioritizing the next series of projects” in light of the Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center opening on Saturday. The General Services Committee recommended approval of the resolution at its May 22 meeting.

In section one, the projects listed were netting at the Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex, a neighborhood park at the former Chisum Elementary, a new splash pad at Daniel E. Carpenter Park, a youth baseball complex at Cielo Grande and an all-inclusive park for special needs children.

The second section listed future priorities that included work on Lions Hondo Little League’s parking lot, lighting at Martin Luther King Park adjacent to Monterrey Elementary, a bike/walking path on railroad right-of-way in city limits and soccer goals and safety fencing near the entrance of the Roswell International Air Center.

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Sanchez reminded the council that General Services also approved a $4,500 purchase order for engineering design on softball netting in the winter. He and Councilor Juan Oropesa wanted an explanation for the delay on the purchase order, and why there was a lack of communication to the council.

Finance Director Monica Garcia explained Kevin Dillon, the city’s project and facilities director, sent the purchase order to the budget department, the budget department created a project code — and then it was not sent to the purchasing department.

Garcia said her department “dropped the ball” and the next step would be to see if the original price would be honored by the contractor.

After the council’s discussion, Sanchez said he approved of the conversations — but didn’t want “want to lose sight of the netting.”

Sanchez said legislative funding for projects at General Douglas McBride Veterans Cemetery — part of South Park Cemetery — and Daniel E. Carpenter Park on Southeast Main Street, was allocated to the city “unexpectedly” and would take funding, manpower and time from other projects.

The funding comes from state capital outlay — $516,000 for the cemetery and $450,000 for the splash pad. The council discussed both projects in-depth later that night and both were approved.

Councilors Caleb Grant, Oropesa, Judy Stubbs and Jacob Roebuck agreed on having priorities — but had reservations on the resolution. Grant, Roebuck and Stubbs stressed the importance of priority lists being flexible. Grant and Roebuck said the future projects in the second section needed to be vetted and worked on before approval.

Grant said the planned splash pad at Carpenter Park should be removed as it is already funded by capital outlay. Later in the meeting, he said the softball netting and other projects were not funded and should remain on the list.

Oropesa said the softball field should be removed from the list, since the city already has it in the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan — a project list for the next five years submitted to the state annually — and the city’s internal Capital Improvement Plan.

Oropesa said approving new projects takes away from others. He used the splash pad at Carpenter Park as an example, saying the existing Bert Murphy Family Splash Pad on East Second Street needs restrooms instead of port-a-potties.

Oropesa was also against a baseball complex at Cielo Grande on West College Boulevard — but said he was more in favor of the concept at the Lions Hondo fields in the 2100 block of South Sunset Avenue.

Stubbs’ concerns were with the binding nature of allocating funds for projects without knowing the city’s “whole financial picture.” She pointed out that some of the language also stated that city councilors would not advocate for deviations, which she said would not vote for.

Roebuck shared his own disappointment about the softball netting’s purchase order and questioned the legality of the language. Roebuck made a motion to table the measure — sending the resolution back to General Services the resolution — to be revised and Grant seconded.

Foster requested that the item be discussed at an upcoming infrastructure workshop, which Mayor Dennis Kintigh explained could be done at City Manager Joe Neeb’s will.

On a voice vote, the motion to table the item back to General Services passed 9 to 1 with Oropesa voting in opposition.

“Roswell has a tendency of starting projects and not finishing projects …” Oropesa said in agreement with Sanchez’s earlier statements.

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

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