The city of Roswell plans on reopening to some degree the Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Roswell Adult Center next month, the city manager said during Thursday evening’s public forum.
Topics in the city’s fourth virtual forum this year focused on the Roswell Air Center and economic development, but Neeb also answered submitted questions on reopening the adult center, the city’s priorities in spending, and the retro design of the recreation center.
The forum, conducted over virtual meeting software GoToMeeting, lasted about an hour. The number of viewers ranged from a dozen to 19 throughout the meeting, with at least six city officials among them.
Three pre-recorded videos were presented during the forum from Michael Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.; Bill Morris, community development director for the city; and Scott Stark, Roswell Air Center director. Technical problems made the audio difficult to hear at times, however.
The city posted the individual videos with better audio playback, as well as a recording of the forum itself, on its YouTube channel Friday afternoon.
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In a question-and-answer session after the video presentations, City Manager Joe Neeb addressed the opening of the adult center and the RMAC.
“We have a number of services that haven’t completely opened,” he said, adding the Roswell Public Library is open limited hours — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays — and the RMAC is preparing to open to the public. Exhibits are available for viewing by appointment at this time. The city had planned to open the museum this month, but an update to the structure’s fire protection system has delayed that until mid-October, Neeb said.
“We’re excited to get the museum back open and allow everybody to go over there and see our new exhibits from our Roswell Artists in Residence program,” he said.
The adult center is also on track to open in mid-October.
“It’s not going to be open for classwork until we can get a better response from the state on mass gatherings, or how many people we can put into a room. The adult center does serve some of our most important population base that has the worst case if they were to contract the COVID-19 virus. So we want to make sure we protect our senior citizens,” Neeb said.
“We are looking at trying to get it opened back up so at least individuals can get in there, play a little pool, play some dominoes,” he said.
Neeb also fielded a comment submitted online anonymously regarding “excessive budget spending on projects that are not a city priority.”
“There won’t be air service,” the comment read, and questioned the need for $2.5 million for the air center terminal and $2 million for the ramp. The commenter also questioned $1.1 million for the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River.
Neeb said the city does not have work planned at the golf course, and speculated the commenter’s information originated from the master list of projects the City Council considered for its Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan submitted to the state for consideration during next year’s legislative session.
That master list included $1.1 million to replace the existing pro shop and maintenance building at the golf course and the air center projects, but those were not included in the five projects the city submitted to the state.
Neeb said the air center projects are still important as air service will return once the pandemic is over.
American Airlines, the city’s only commercial air service provider, stopped flights to Phoenix in April and informed the city Aug. 19 it would suspend all service to Roswell and 14 other cities in October at least temporarily.
Within a week, however, after negotiations with the city, American Airlines announced it would not suspend service to Roswell.
“I believe that we’re in this little flux because of the COVID pandemic responses. I believe there’s going to continue to be air service here,” Neeb said.
“When American (Airlines) came out and said they were going to cancel service with the city of Roswell, that initiated our elected leadership. We brought all these individuals together very quickly and American changed their minds about closing off the service to Roswell,” he said.
The terminal and ramp projects at the air center would benefit more than just air travel, Neeb said.
“Our air center is bigger than just commercial service of people taking commercial flights out of here,” he said.
Maintenance, repair and overhaul businesses at the center are growing, he said
“Understand that we need to feed that asset in order to keep it viable for the future,” he said.
Neeb answered other questions submitted by the public for the forum:
• On plans to offer spay and neutering services through Roswell Animal Services, Neeb said the city still has plans to build an operating center at the animal control facility for that purpose. “We have found there are some legal requirements we have to run through in order to operate the ability to spay and neuter within that structure. We are working on that, we just haven’t made it there yet,” Neeb said.
• Another question asked was why the city spent so much money on a recreation center “that looks like it was built in the 1980s.” Neeb said because the Roswell Recreation Center was built on the site of the city’s original airport, it was designed to resemble an air traffic control tower. “It was a nod to our past,” Neeb said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.