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Commission moves bike, pedestrian plan forward

The city of Roswell’s Parks and Recreation Commission voted Monday to advance the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to the General Services Committee as a pathway to approval by the Roswell City Council. The plan builds on the city’s existing trails and pedestrian pathways, like Spring River Trail, seen here Tuesday in Enchanted Lands Park. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, finished almost a year ago, never received approval.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission took a step toward correcting that Monday by voting unanimously that it go before the General Services Committee for recommendation to the full City Council.

Having an approved plan will help when applying for grants for related projects, commission member Becky Joyce said.

“We have this bicycle and pedestrian plan and I didn’t know that it had never been approved, actually,” she said. “We need to get that approved so that we can move forward because it gives a lot of insight into what we need in Roswell.”

The plan was prepared by Albuquerque engineering firm Bohannan Huston Inc. for $110,000. The New Mexico Department of Transportation paid 85% of the cost.

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Laying out plans to build on the city’s existing cycling and pedestrian pathways, the plan was presented to the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee as a non-action item on Feb. 24, 2020. The final plan is dated April 2020.

After that February meeting, it does not appear on any committee or City Council agendas. A little more than two weeks later, the first COVID-19 case was detected in the state, leading to public health restrictions.

No council member championed the plan to present as a resolution at that time, City Engineer Louis Najar said at Monday’s commission meeting.

Najar said getting the plan approved now will help the city apply for funding this summer.

“There’s going to be a call for projects I think in July for the RTP — Recreational Trails Program — and Transportation Alternative Program. So there’s some work to be done,” he said.

Those plans are coordinated by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Both provide federal funds for trail development and maintenance.

The nearly 150-page master plan offers three priorities for the city — implementing bike lanes on College Boulevard for an east-west bikeway; maintaining and expanding the existing trails network; and general improvements to bikeways and pedestrian facilities throughout the city.

Najar noted that a proposal to repair part of the Spring River Trail failed to pass City Council in February at his request so the project’s scope and budget could be reduced.

“It’s about $250,000 per mile of trail just to put an overlay and some repairs,” he said. “We have to go after outside funds. I’ve got another $150,000 to do a little bit on the Hondo Trail from Second to Virginia, basically just do some crack sealing and a simple overlay.”

The plan contains recommended projects, but the city can use the plan as just a guideline.

“You can take any of those projects or recommendations and modify it, change and just go with it, or something else can come up. As long as we’re following the guidelines of the pedestrian plan — that’s where we start,” he said.

The full plan is available to view on the agenda of the Parks and Recreation Commission on the city’s website, roswell-nm.gov/AgendaCenter.

In other business, Jim Burress, special services director for the city, encouraged commission members to take part in a virtual town hall meeting March 25 for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, or SCORP. States are required to develop the plans every five years to receive money under the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. Surveys and more information about the process, as well as registration for the town hall meeting, can be found at www.getoutsidenm.org.

“People in the southern part of the state really need to do this so their voices are being heard. More resources need to be spent down here,” Burress said.

The commission also discussed the possibility of meeting in person again for its April meeting. The state’s public health order issued a year ago caused the group to either meet virtually or cancel meetings.

The Recreation and Aquatic Center is a possible location, as it would allow for social distancing, Commission Chair JaneAnn Oldrup said. Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said she would have to check with the city’s information technology department to make sure a space is set up to allow for virtual meetings as well.

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

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