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City looks at taking ownership of federal land at Roswell Air Center

Lisa Dunlap Photo The city of Roswell is considering purchasing this Air Center property at G St. from the federal government.

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The city is interested in acquiring or purchasing some property at the Roswell Air Center that now belongs to the federal government.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh said he has been working for three years to get the U.S. government to release the vacant land at the intersection of G Street and Mathis Street across Earl Cummings Loop from the airport terminal. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce also helped with that effort.

Recently, the city was notified that the federal government had completed its process of offering the “surplus” property to other federal agencies, determining that no other department wants to acquire it at this time.

“Now it is in a phase where it can be offered to us,” Kintigh said.

The city can either purchase the 11 acres at fair market value or seek a transfer of ownership for free. A free transfer likely would come with restrictions allowing the property to serve a public use only, such as functioning as parking lots, correctional institutions, homeless facilities or educational buildings.

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Kintigh added that, if the property is transferred, General Services Administration would have oversight over any future use and the land would be subject to a possible “clawback” for five years.

The parcel used to be a baseball field, but Kintigh and Air Center Director Scott Stark told members of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission at the group’s Thursday meeting that it could serve a lot of different purposes if the city buys it.

One idea is that it could be used for a hotel, Stark said. The city also has talked about adding additional warehouse space for Air Center tenants.

Stark also explained that, even if the city does purchase the land, there will be restrictions on future development, given its proximity to the airfield. A hotel or warehouse would be allowed, but housing or churches probably would not be, he said.

“I do think it is a really good opportunity for the city to purchase the property,” said commission member Riley Armstrong. “My thought is that it would be a perfect land lease for a small hotel.”

He said he does not favor a parking lot or a warehouse. Because of its proximity to the terminal, he thinks whatever goes there should be “aesthetically pleasing.” A hotel would be welcomed by late-night air travelers, he said.

Stark and Kintigh also discussed what types of city funds could be used for a purchase. If airport enterprise funds are used, there also could be restrictions on the types of projects allowed, but the city has other enterprise funds that Kintigh thought might be used. Money in the city’s general fund is available, but that funding supports a lot of other purposes and city leaders typically look for alternative funds for specialized projects.

Chaves County property records indicate that the parcel, as well as the Roswell Job Corps site directly to the north, are held by the Roswell office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.


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