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Committee recommends convention center fixes

Juno Ogle Photo Juanita Jennings, right, public affairs director for the city of Roswell, talks about capital project priorities for her department during Thursday morning's meeting of the Roswell City Council's Finance Committee. Listening to the presentation are city staff and committee members Jacob Roebuck and Jason Perry, seated to the left of Jennings. Councilor Judy Stubbs, second from right, also attended the meeting.

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Sewage line work and lighting at the convention center, a tourist trolley and wayfinding signs were among the projects members of the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee decided to recommend Thursday as the city prepares to compile its list for the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan.

Each of the council’s five standing committees will consider projects to recommend for the ICIP list in the coming month from those submitted by city departments and facilities. The Finance Committee considered projects from the Public Affairs Department, the Roswell Convention Center and the Information Technology Department.

The committee agreed to make its recommendations by consensus rather than a formal vote. Councilors Jason Perry, who is the committee chair, and Jacob Roebuck were present at the meeting in City Hall, while Councilor Margaret Kennard attended virtually. Councilor Juan Oropesa was not present.

The full city council will consider the recommendations from each committee and form a final list to submit to the Legislature in September.

The No. 2 priority for the convention center — after its debt payment — is rehabilitation of a sewer line, Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said. The sewer line became overpowered during the UFO Festival and July 4 event at the convention center, Jennings said. The city’s facilities maintenance and Central Control were called out to the convention center to handle the emergency.

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“Since then what they’ve found is that we do need to repair the main sewer line underneath the pre-function of the convention center,” Jennings said, referring to the open gathering space outside the exhibit hall.

“I listed that as No. 2 because I believe you have to have good working bathrooms if you’re going to be hosting large events,” Jennings said.

The age of the line and ground settlement have caused it to back up, according to city staff. Perry said he was disappointed the convention center contractor didn’t address that when it underwent a remodel and construction in 2018.

“That was one of the main things I know several of us who have been around long enough said ‘We don’t care how big these rooms are, are the bathrooms going to work properly?’” he said.

“We were assured by the company that was a priority and it just doesn’t sound like it got fixed,” Perry said.

The city is looking at several options to fix the line. No cost estimate was yet available.

Jennings said updating lighting in the pre-function area was another high priority.

“Unfortunately, the lighting on the old side was never updated when they did the remodel, and so in order to just have a nice look and feel as you come into the facility, I put that as the No. 3 item,” she said.

Councilor Jacob Roebuck said he would like to see updated lighting in the exhibit hall, which is ranked No. 8 on the convention center list.

“I think the hall lighting is important just because we have a nice pre-function area and you go into the exhibit hall and the lighting has a gymnasium feel. It really is a bummer as far as the experience,” he said.

Ultimately he agreed with Perry and Kennard on recommending the pre-function area lighting, however. That project is estimated at $150,000.

For projects from the Public Affairs Department, the committee agreed to recommend additional wayfinding signs and a tourist trolley.

That phase of the wayfinding system would place signs around the city directing people to various attractions, public parking and areas of the Roswell Air Center such as parking or car rentals, Jennings said. The signs will be consistent in look to the green-and-white wayfinding signs the city put in place at the beginning of the year.

Jennings said Public Affairs will present a request for funds for the design phase of the project at the Infrastructure Committee later this month. The total cost of the wayfinding project is estimated at $400,000.

The trolley would be used to help get tourists around town or during special events, Jennings said. It is estimated at $350,000.

“Ideally, we’d love to have the trolley because I think we can really have a great downtown trolley ride going to different places or attractions, going to food venues. It’s an offering that most communities use and we don’t do it yet. I would love to partner with our local businesses and our restaurants in order to have an experiential experience for our visitors,” she said.

The wayfinding was ranked No. 3 and the trolley No. 5 on the list submitted by Public Affairs. Ranking higher, but not chosen by the Finance Committee members, were a new sign along Main Street at the Visitor Center, expansion of the Visitor Center and a store at the Roswell Air Center for the city’s branded merchandise.

From the IT Department, the committee agreed to recommend replacement of servers at a cost of $50,000.

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend the following items to the full council at its Aug. 12 meeting:

• A budget adjustment for fiscal year 2022 to account for the city’s first payment from the American Rescue Act of $5.8 million. How the money will be spent will be decided at a future date. The remainder of the expected $11.7 million will come later in the year.

• A resolution authorizing the disposal of surplus property. Items that will be up for auction include furniture from an estate given to the Roswell Public Library and vehicles from the Roswell Police Department. Since starting the online auctions of surplus property in April at publicsurplus.com, the city has brought in $96,000 including taxes, according to a report from Robert Glenn, deputy superintendent of the utilities department.

• A resolution approving the city’s financial commitment to fund Roswell Transit for the federal fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2022.

• A scope of work document to create a pool of temporary employment contractors.

• Equipping 10 new Dodge pickup trucks for use as patrol vehicles by the Roswell Police Department. Outfitting the trucks with emergency lights, sirens and other equipment by Code 3 Service of Albuquerque will cost $105,128.

• The purchase of a new dump truck for $100,213, and a John Deere mini excavator, two backhoes and a loader for a total of $446,727 for the Water Maintenance Department.

• The $907,410 purchase of a Caterpillar scraper to replace one totaled in a rollover accident at the landfill. Insurance will cover $355,000. Perry asked Transit Director Becky Hicks to see if the city could appeal that amount with the insurance company. Hicks said the scraper had been refurbished in 2018 and the city had a higher value estimate on it than the insurance company.

• Awarding replacement of roofs at the Roswell Test Facility to RoofCare of Las Cruces for $627,131.

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

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