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Committee approves two ideas to provide bikes, books in area

A bookmobile would do a great deal to help prevent summer learning loss, says Enid Costley, Roswell Public Library director. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Two ideas that have received preliminary city government approval could boost the brain and the brawn of Roswell residents.

Four members of the General Services Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to recommend to the City Council a new bike rental program for Cielo Grande Recreation area and to approve the use of state bond funds for a library bookmobile. The matters now will head to the entire City Council for its consideration.

The Spring River Corridor Foundation, which includes members Bob Edwards and Ivan Hall, has been working with city staff for some time on establishing bike rentals for residents and visitors. The group has agreed to donate 10 adult and youth bikes to begin the program and to pay for maintenance on the bikes for at least two years.

Recreation Manager Marcus Gallegos said the city learned recently from its insurance carrier that it will cost only $500 a year to cover the program, so the city agreed to move forward with a pilot program that would run from May until October.

At this time, the rental bikes could be used only to travel the paths around Cielo Grande Recreation Area. The bikes could not go into other areas of the city. Renters would pay $5 for two hours and $2 for every additional hour, plus late fees. Children would have to be accompanied by adults, Renters would have to present a driver’s license, a credit card and sign a waiver.

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Noting that the city has agreed to a pilot program, City Councilor Jacob Roebuck said, “It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.”

Gallegos said the city will be tracking usage and gathering other information during the six-month introduction to see how well it works for the city and the bike renters.

Eventually, Edwards said, the Spring River Corridor Foundation would like to see a safe trail or pathway developed that would link the Cielo Grande paths to the Spring River trail and bikeways so that people could take longer bike rides.

Turning to a different aspect of quality of life, the bookmobile would provide needed library access to people who now have difficulty making it to the building on North Pennsylvania Avenue, said Enid Costley, Roswell Public Library director.

State general obligation monies approved statewide in 2016 and 2018 for the state’s public and school libraries are available to the Roswell library, and Costley explained that her top priority for that restricted money is to buy a van, which would function as a mobile library.

“We already have the funds. We are just seeking permission to use them,” she said.

If the full City Council approves the use of the money, Costley said that she would anticipate having the van in use by August or some time around there. She said she would want to take it to summer food program sites, to senior facilities, the JOY Center and other places where youth or those who do not have much mobility gather.

The bookmobile, the size of a large delivery van, would hold carts with books strapped on them. The carts would be wheeled out to serve the public at a table set up under an awning. Only staff, including an outreach librarian to be hired to coordinate the program, would be allowed in the van. The possibility also exists that the bookmobile could become a branch library if the bookmobile also offers programming and reference services.

“If we are a branch library, then we can get state aid, which would help cover the costs of fuel and insurance for the vehicle,” Costley said. “If we are a branch library, we also qualify for the e-rate for internet service.”

She said some families in Roswell cannot afford to spend their gas money on trips to the library. Other people do not have the ability to travel to the library building.

“If we just go to the summer food sites, I think our impact will be tremendous,” Costley said, “because we then will be reaching children and families that have a big need.”

When children are out of school during the summer months, they need to continue their reading and learning, she said, so she thinks the bookmobile would benefit students and schools.

The committee also agreed to move forward to the City Council a resolution to allow the purchase of two new 24-passenger city buses. Pecos Trails Transit System would use its current budget funds to pay 20% of the cost, while the New Mexico Department of Transportation would cover the remaining 80% of the expense.

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