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Council OKs sidewalk, street project prioritization

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Roswell city councilors debated the need to require city staff to present prioritized lists for sidewalk and road repair, but ultimately approved resolutions on both during a six-hour meeting Thursday night.

Resolution 21-26 requires the city manager at least once a year to submit to the council a priority list for sidewalk repairs in the city and designate capital funds for repairs of sidewalks deemed to be in the best interest of the city. The resolution does not, however, change city code or state statute that designates the responsibility of sidewalk repair to property owners.

The resolution passed 8-2 with Councilors Juan Oropesa and Angela Moore voting against it.

Although she ended up voting for the resolution, Councilor Judy Stubbs said she was concerned about the city fixing sidewalks that private property owners are required to be responsible for. She also said she thought the resolution would deviate from the normal budgeting process. But she also acknowledged sidewalk repair is something the city has been trying to find a solution for.

“We’ve discussed this for years in Roswell. I don’t know that there’s an answer as to how it’s funded, where we do it and all of that. I think I’m still concerned about whether we’re doing it for property that abuts private or public properties,” she said.

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Councilor Jacob Roebuck, who initiated the resolution as chair of the Infrastructure Committee, said the rules of responsibility were “politically unenforceable.”

“It’s certainly unenforceable equally because we have so many of our constituents who could not begin to afford to install or replace old sidewalks,” he said.

“This is more about making sure this does not leave the purview of the city council,” he said.

City Manager Joe Neeb and City Engineer Louis Najar both said the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget includes $250,000 for sidewalk repair. Neeb said the city’s code also allows for the city to correct issues with sidewalks that are deemed to be important.

“This resolution does not establish how much money we would put into the program, but establishes that the program has the backing of the city council to do that,” he said.

Neeb said the staff would be “dusting off” a proposed sidewalk program that got put aside after the pandemic hit last year. The program would allow the city to charge a property owner for sidewalk repairs and establish an assistance program for those who cannot afford to make payments, he said.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh broke from his tradition of not making comments on an issue before a vote is taken to encourage the councilors’ approval.

Sidewalks, like streets or alleys, are considered public thoroughfares and must be maintained to government-imposed standards, he said.

“And yet, we do not expect property owners to maintain streets and alleys,” he said.

“If we’re going to impose standards, the government has a responsibility to fund it to some degree,” he said.

The idea behind Resolution 21-27 was similar to the sidewalk resolution, Roebuck said — to keep the repair of streets, especially smaller neighborhood streets, in front of the council.

“If we don’t start keeping up with the neighborhoods, we are going to have a crisis and it’s going to be a very, very, very expensive crisis. That’s the heart behind this resolution,” he said.

Like the sidewalk resolution, it would require the city manager to submit a priority list for street repair, this time at least twice a year, and designate capital funds for projects.

The resolution passed 7-3 with Oropesa, Moore and Stubbs voting against it.

Oropesa and Stubbs said they believed it would create a duplication of work for city staff. Oropesa cited the survey of city streets conducted in 2018 to rate their condition.

“I think we’re being repetitive for staff to say that they need to stay on top of it when they already know what the problems are,” he said.

Councilor Barry Foster agreed it is repetitive but said he appreciated the idea of getting the reports twice a year because it would help when constituents ask about when a road is going to get fixed.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, councilors unanimously approved the following items:

• An ordinance on an intergovernmental agreement for mutual aid.

• Awarding the $248,070 manhole rehabilitation project to Corrosion Resistant Coatings Inc., Sandia Park.

• A resolution authorizing the sale of surplus property.

• A resolution supporting the establishment of a regional police academy in Roswell. Police Chief Phil Smith said the support was needed for him to complete the application with the state.

• A resolution to support an application to the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s call for projects. The projects include portions of West McGaffey, North Main Street, North Atkinson and East Hobson.

• A resolution committing $1.25 million in Urban Development Action Grant money for improvements at Hanger 84 at the Roswell Air Center.

• A resolution to amend the fiscal 2021 budget for $13.8 million in revenue and $2.9 million in expenses.

• Scheduling public hearings and votes for proposed ordinances that would change city code regulating camping and campsites and authorizing the sale of $60 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance improvements at Leprino Foods.

• Appointments of Donna Daniel to a two-year term on the Keep Roswell Beautiful board of directors, and Tim Hartwick, Anne Baker, Harry Bayless and Lorrina Segovia to the Roswell Museum and Art Center board of trustees.

• The purchase of 30 X7 Tasers by the Roswell Police Department.

• A request for proposals on the scope of work for an air service consultant for the Roswell Air Center.

• Awarding a $2.7 million bid for improvements to the RAC taxiway to A and J Constructors Inc., Carlsbad.

• Approval of use of the remaining $103,567 of 2018 Library General Obligation Bonds to create an interactive learning wall in the Malone Room and a water-themed learning area in the children’s department of the Roswell Public Library.

• A lease with the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. for Building 93 at the RAC. The EDC will not pay rent in consideration for improvements at the building. A commercial food processing facility will move into the building.

The council also passed the following items by split votes:

• A wholesale liquor license for Admiral Beverage at 515 E. Brasher Road. The vote was 8-2, with Moore and Councilor Savino Sanchez the no votes.

• A standard agreement form for use of effluent water. The vote was 8-1 with Oropesa voting no. Councilor George Peterson left the meeting prior to this vote.

• Approving the city manager to enter a contract for the selection of professional services for redistricting of city wards by a vote of 8-1. Oropesa was the dissenting vote.

The council also conducted a 65-minute executive session to discuss litigation with the state of New Mexico and the Taxation and Revenue Department regarding House Bill 2 and a potential lease of land at the RAC.

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

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