Home News Local News All-inclusive park, new baseball fields prioritized by council

All-inclusive park, new baseball fields prioritized by council

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Parks Director Jim Burress stands at the lectern, with City Manager Joe Neeb next to him, at the Roswell City Council meeting on Thursday. Roswell city councilors selected five projects that will be submitted to the state for potential funding and three of those projects fall under the city’s Parks and Recreation department. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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After several amendments and two tied votes, the Roswell City Council approved their top five projects for potential state funding.

Updated annually, the five projects are part of the infrastructure capital improvement plan for 2021-25, known as the ICIP, and will be submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration for state legislators for possible funding from capital outlay.

Juan Fuentes, director of administrative services, and City Manager Joe Neeb answered the councilors’ questions and presented the 30-item ICIP list. Fuentes explained it was mandatory to have items on the list to pursue state and federal grants.

As promoted by Mayor Dennis Kintigh, the staff confirmed the list will be submitted to the state on Sept. 27. Once discussion and amendments were made, the city councilors prioritized the final list of their top five.

The approved resolution included the following:

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• All-inclusive park at $1.5 million.

• Eight baseball fields (two quads with four fields each) at Cielo Grande totaling to $13,500,000.

• North Garden Avenue bridge replacement estimated to cost $1 million with a request of $750,000.

• Cahoon Park Tennis Courts upgrades, including adding a restroom and bleachers remodel, with a request of $411,000.

• East McGaffey Street road rehabilitation and American Disability Act upgrades estimated to cost $1.3 million with a request at $750,000.

Councilors George Peterson, Steve Henderson, Jeanine Corn Best, Jacob Roebuck, Angela Moore, Savino Sanchez and Caleb Grant voted in favor of these top five. Councilors Barry Foster and Juan Oropesa voted against the resolution, so it passed 8 to 2.

As listed on the agenda, the projects were originally as follows before the councilors’ changes: all-inclusive park, Roswell Museum and Art Center’s store renovations, North Garden Avenue bridge replacement, replacement of Pecos Trails Transit bus stops and East McGaffey road rehabilitation.

Councilor Grant made a motion to amend the list, and Councilor Roebuck seconded to remove the design and reconstruction of RMAC’s store that would be moved to the front, lobby renovation and creation of the “Family Gallery.”

Roebuck and Grant made another motion to add the Cahoon Park Tennis Courts as one of the top five priorities instead of the RMAC project. The council unanimously approved this amendment.

The $500,000 bus stop project was also removed by the councilors, saying it was not critical at this time or they question how it ended up on the list at all. The item was listed on the agenda as the first phase of replacing 100 Pecos bus stops.

After signing up to speak, state Rep. Greg Nibert, Roswell-District 59, and Krista Smith with the New Mexico Autism Society (NMAS) petitioned the council to consider the all-inclusive park that would be between the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center and the skate park on West College Boulevard.

On July 13, 2018, the full council approved a resolution of support for the all-inclusive park for children with and without disabilities. It was explained at that meeting that a memorandum of understanding had been signed by the city allowing NMAS to fundraise for the park that would eventually be turned over to the city for maintenance and ownership through another agreement.

Nibert guaranteed his efforts to “try to secure funding” from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and added the local Kiwanis Club intends to “make a substantial effort to contribute funds.” Smith asked the council to make the park “a reality for Roswell.”

Nearly every councilor vocalized their support of the all-inclusive park when Kintigh asked each of them to share their top three and five priorities for the list.

A few amendments failed, such as to remove the museum from the ICIP list altogether, adding the old Chisum Elementary School site as a future park and requesting funding for the Roswell Police Department tasers and Roswell Fire Department’s cardiac monitors.

Stubbs made a motion to amend the resolution to add the public safety command campus to the city’s list, but not as a top-five priority to submit to the state, and Henderson was the second. The councilors’ votes tied 5-5 and Kintigh voted in favor of Stubbs’ motion breaking the tie.

During the discussion, some of the councilors expressed confusion on the process of selecting the top five ICIP items, the longer ICIP list with 30 projects and the city’s master list of all projects. A few councilors shared their confusion and disapproval about the process of how items were selected, as well as the number of lists and their purposes.

In response to some of these comments, Kintigh “candidly” described the process as “difficult” though the intention was to provided a “clear direction” from the council to the staff on the projects. Fuentes explained the list was broken into each department the project was related to and Legal, Infrastructure, General Services and Public Safety committees reviewed and approved the projects. 

Grant said he was “not very happy” with the process and how the governing body’s time was “wasted.” He referenced a three-hour special meeting this summer where the comprehensive plan was reviewed and said he “didn’t have much faith” in the resolution as it was presented.

“I think it’s unacceptable,” Grant said, explaining his final vote for the ICIP list. “I think the council has been lied to and deceived — and these are my comments only — but I think none of us deserve to be lied to when it comes to these projects and someone should stand up and take responsibility for that. …”

Grant said he felt he wasn’t being taken “seriously” about his concerns on the process and added this was his “only reason” for bringing it up in a public meeting.

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