Water projects top city’s wish list

August 12, 2014 • Local News

The Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday prioritized its list of capital projects for consideration of funding by state and federal lawmakers, with an emphasis on water supply projects.

The Finance Committee’s recommendations for the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan are scheduled to be considered by the full City Council Thursday night.

The Finance Committee, chaired by City Councilor Caleb Grant and also comprised of City Councilors Jason Perry and Art Sandoval, chose to place water infrastructure improvement projects at the top of the city’s wish list.

The No. 1-ranked project on the list is a $1.5 million water supply project that would entail replacing large valves.

The No. 2-ranked project is also a water supply project. The city is seeking $2 million for the first phase of a multi-phase project to repair large-diameter water lines.

The No. 3-ranked project is a $207,000 request to complete a fire-training center.

The No. 4-ranked project is a $443,000 request for the first phase of street paving in and around South Park Cemetery.

The No. 5-ranked project is a $500,000 request to rehabilitate sewer department manholes.

The No. 6-ranked project is a $200,000 request for a recreational splash [auth] pad.

In total, the city’s wish list entailed dozens of projects amounting to more than $130 million.

Some of the projects on the list, such as Joe Bauman Baseball Stadium and the Yucca Recreation Center, have already been partially funded by the state.

The city has recently been awarded $500,000 for repairs at the 100-year-old Yucca center and $75,000 for repairs at Joe Bauman stadium.

Grant said he disagreed with a prior list that ranked roofing and heating/air conditioning improvements at the Yucca Recreation Center, and bathroom and concession roof repairs at Joe Bauman Baseball Stadium, at the top of the wish list, one and two respectively.

Grant said a new Yucca Recreation Center should “be nowhere near the top 10.”

“I don’t think we have enough information to put it at the top at this moment,” Grant explained after the meeting.

The prior list also ranked a splash pad as the No. 5 item, before the splash pad request was bumped down to No. 6 by the Finance Committee on Monday.

Grant said the list should prioritize infrastructure projects.

“Personally, we’ve got to re-order this to approve it,” Grant said of the prior list.

City Manager Larry Fry said state lawmakers are far more likely to fund infrastructure projects such as a fire-training center, than a roofing repair project, for example.

“I think the likelihood of that being considered is not as strong,” Fry said.

Fry said the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for the 2016 -20 fiscal years has to be submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration by Sept. 2.

Fry said placing projects on the capital improvement list makes them eligible for some grant funding. The list serves as a planning tool for the city, he said.

Perry said the Finance Committee included water projects at the top of the wish list because of the likelihood they would be looked on favorably by state lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez.

Martinez has pushed for the state’s cities and counties to include more water projects in their capital outlay requests.

Each year, the New Mexico Legislature approves a capital outlay bill, funding capital projects requested by state senators and representatives for their respective districts. The governor has the power to veto any projects submitted to her after being approved by the New Mexico Senate and House of Representatives.

Perry said the city’s cemetery board members have requested street improvements at South Park Cemetery.

“The streets are in significant disrepair,” Perry said. “I think cemetery and fire need to be up there (at the top of the list). With ICIP, I like to stick with infrastructure.”

In other business, the Finance Committee recommended moving the start time for City Council meetings from 7 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The city council meets the second Thursday of each month at City Hall.

The full City Council is scheduled to discuss the recommended meeting time change Thursday.

“I don’t think there’s any magic about 7 p.m.,” said Mayor Dennis Kintigh. “My request is the (Finance) Committee send this on to the whole council.”

Perry said he would like to see City Council meetings begin sooner and end sooner.

“I would love to see it earlier myself,” Perry said. “I have no problems sending it forward and seeing what the whole council thinks.”

City leaders said the last time change for regular council meetings was in 1994 when starting times were moved from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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