Home News Local News City council OKs concept for ballfields, inclusive park

City council OKs concept for ballfields, inclusive park

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City councilors expressed support for plans for a park designed for children of all abilities and tournament ballfields at Cielo Grande Recreation Area, but two voiced concerns about the location during Thursday night’s meeting of the Roswell City Council.

The council approved the conceptual plan for the project by a vote of 7-2. Councilors Margaret Kennard, Jason Perry, Angela Moore, Jeanine Best, Judy Stubbs, Jacob Roebuck and Barry Foster voted in favor of the plan while George Peterson and Juan Oropesa voted against. Councilor Savino Sanchez had stepped out of the meeting during the discussion and did not vote.

The city has received two state capital outlay grants for the project — $850,000 for the development of the baseball fields and $1.4 million for the inclusive park. The city would use the first grant to develop a master plan and engineering plans as well as constructing a primary road into the site. The road would connect College Boulevard and Montana Avenue behind the Recreation and Aquatic Center.

The ballfields — two quads for a total of eight fields — would be located between the new road and the amphitheater area of Cielo Grande and would include a concession stand. The fields at the Noon-Optimist Park and Lions-Hondo park would be used for practice fields for tournaments, Community Development Director Bill Morris said.

The inclusive park would consist of features designed for children of different abilities, such as wheelchair-accessible swings, paths and ramps accessible to all and equipment that engages different senses. The conceptual plan would place the park adjacent to the Recreation and Aquatic Center’s south parking lot and would include landscape buffers, a restroom, a sensory park, dancing fountain park and picnic areas.

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Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, who spoke during the presentation, said it is believed it would be only the second all-inclusive park in New Mexico and the only such park outside the Albuquerque metro area.

Moore said she was excited about the inclusive park even though she was against an initial plan that placed it closer to Montana Avenue.

“Dealing with the autistic daily, I was concerned about the noise part of it,” she said.

“We have an opportunity here like none other and I just appreciate everybody sticking with this and all the work you do,” Moore said.

Peterson and Oropesa also said they supported the inclusive park, but asked why other parts of town have not been considered for the project.

“The inclusive park, that’s something that Roswell really needs, but my concern is it’s at Cielo Grande. Roswell’s a huge city. Why can’t we have something in the middle or down south? Everything’s going to Cielo Grande,” Peterson said.

“Lions-Hondo has a huge field right next to it. They could have put both fields right there,” Peterson said.

“Loveless Park is a huge park. This all-inclusive park could have been over there, but since it’s on the east side, it doesn’t get anything over there,” Peterson said.

Prior to calling for a vote, Mayor Dennis Kintigh advised that anyone else with concerns about the project needed to voice them to City Manager Joe Neeb.

“If this is not what the will of the governing body is as presented, staff needs to know that so they do not waste their time on projects that will not ultimately be approved,” Kintigh said.

Oropesa then spoke, voicing similar concerns to Peterson’s.

I am all in support of an all-inclusive park, make no mistake,” Oropesa said, but added he could not support the ballfields. He said in 50 years of living in Roswell, Little League has never brought a large tournament to town.

“If they wanted to, they have enough fields to be able to put on a pretty good sized tournament,” he said.

Oropesa said he has been involved with softball tournaments for several years and gave Ruidoso as an example.

“Raids attracts a lot of softball teams, but they have different locations for those teams. They even have games in Capitan, and that’s 19, 20 miles away,” he said.

“If that is the reason we want to bring in ballfields just because of tournaments, you have that ability right now,” Oropesa said.

Councilors briefly discussed separating the projects into two separate votes, but Neeb recommended keeping the proposals together because they involve state funds.

“We have to spend X portion of the money or we have to give that money back. Part of what happened is that $850,000 that is going to the ballfields concept is actually helping the all-inclusive park by paying for that road that is going to go through there,”  Neeb said.

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

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