Mayor Dennis Kintigh, center, gestures as he speaks Thursday with members of the Roswell Daily Record’s edi torial staff. The mayor discussed several topics, such as animal control, city employees and overgrown weeds. Also pictured are Vision Editor Rey Berrones, left, and RDR Editor Timothy P. Howsare, right. (Randal Seyler Photo)
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a monthly series of interviews with Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh by Roswell Daily Record staff. Those with a question for the mayor may send queries to Daily Record Editor Timothy Howsare at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to City Editor Randal Seyler at email@example.com.
Have you turned down any Ice Bucket Challenges? If so, why?
I have had like three or four of them, and I haven’t turned any of them down, I am just trying to get through the last week of this city manager search. I’m running a hundred miles an hour and candidly, when I get home, I just want to, pardon the pun, chill out. We get through this whole process give me a week and I’m amenable to it, but let me get past this other stuff. I am really kind of focused on that. I’ve had at least three if not four challenges, so hopefully it is still going on next week or the week after.
Question from Twitter: Did you read or have comments on the negative comments of citizens as expressed in columns published in the Roswell Daily Record by Tim Howsare and Bob Entrop?
I like what Bob Entrop wrote, I know Bob. In interest of full disclosure, Bob helped me on my campaign, he did some of my messaging. But I think he is spot on. There are some aspects that people are not going to like. We have a crime problem. And you know what? We need to deal with it. I meet with the chief and deputy chief once a month; I meet with the chief, deputy chief and command staff once a month, so … twice a month, I am over at the police department — that doesn’t include the in-between times. We looked to make the funding for the police department a priority, and we fought that battle, but crime doesn’t get turned around in a day, and there are multiple aspects to crime and public safety. I think the derelict structures are a big part of it. There are some people who are not happy about tearing down some of these. ‘I remember when Roswell College of Cosmetology was a great place!’ and “My mother bought flowers at Barringer’s Greenhouse 30 years ago!” They’re full of rodents and roaches and they’re nasty places they can’t be restored. That is part of it and we have to address it.
Shopping? That is an interesting dynamic. I don’t know where shopping is going to go. My wife does a lot of stuff on the internet, she does sewing, she actually has a little business. But she can buy fabric, she can buy notions, she can buy patterns on the internet. And she buys stuff here, too, don’t get me wrong. She goes up to Hobby Lobby. But there is stuff she can get on the internet she has the whole world, and how much of that is changing retail shopping? I’m not sure where retail shopping like the mall, a lot of people say the mall is dead, there’s not much shopping, but that is not unique to Roswell. There’s shopping malls all over the country that are fading. And I don’t know where it goes. Doesn’t mean we don’t want more shopping, doesn’t mean we don’t want things like restaurants, but we have got to have more population, we have to grow this community and that is part of economic development to try and encourage more employment so more people come here, there’s more people here then there is more demand for retail so it becomes. … We’re not there yet, but we want to go there.
Building on that, could you address the entertainment venues that can’t operate within the city limits such as Way Out West?
I wouldn’t say they can’t. The only restrictions are that Way Out West has package sales on Sundays. They decided to locate out there because they’ll make a ton of money, just like that Allsup’s down there that is at the base, they’ll make money because they have package liquor sales on Sunday. There’s a couple of other places in the county that do that. But if you’re not involved in package liquor sales, you’ve got Pecos Flavors Winery, Peppers, they have entertainment in a very cool environment. One of our candidates for city manager came in early and he and his wife were there and they were very impressed, they said, “wow, this is pretty neat.” And they got wine, and some little sandwich platter. At Peppers, they have got their entertainment on the patio, and Farley’s is packed. And that’s a different crowd. Saturday night I was over at the Anderson Museum for the Rob Rio performance. This coming weekend, yours truly is the narrator for the symphony kickoff thing on Labor Day at the zoo. I would argue that we have a very eclectic mix that offers opportunities for people with different perspectives on life. And not everyone is going to want to go to the symphony, but you know what? I am past the point of going to Way Out West or Farley’s. Maybe 30 years ago, yeah.
Talking about pushing Way Out West out of the city limits, it looks like the city is doing the same thing with the oil rental business?
(Laughing) You mean the water truck company? Okay, I am in an awkward position here. Let me explain. Planning and Zoning Commission votes two nights ago. Mr. Shepard came to city hall the next day and filed a formal appeal of the Planning and Zoning Commission decision to the entire City Council. That appeal will be heard on Sept. 11. I am the presiding officer of the City Council and will be meeting in what is referred to as a quasi-judicial body. As such, we will be in a hearing, we will receive evidence, hear evidence, we will be required to act upon what is presented to us and reach a decision as whether to sustain the Planning and Zoning Commission vote or over turn it. So in that particular matter, I will be functioning as a judge. So I will have to approach that (question) with a lot less candor than I can a whole lot of issues because I am not just the mayor, but I am a hearing officer. It’s not a role I expected when I ran for mayor, but it’s not a role I am not comfortable with because I have been in the courtroom with a lot of excellent judges.
How many city vehicles are there and how many city employees are allowed to take a vehicle home?
I don’t know the numbers of city vehicles, the ones I know that can take home their vehicles are the police. There may be others, I just don’t know. I know the police take them home, there’s reasons for that. Police get to take home their marked units and they are allowed to use them to run some errands, they can go to the grocery store in their police unit. The requirement is that they must have their badge, gun, credentials, and must be prepared to respond to a felony if they see one. The intention is to just put more police vehicles on the street because you can’t tell if that’s a guy going to Farmer’s to go shopping or if that’s a man on patrol.
If a city employee is authorized to take a vehicle home, does he or she reimburse the city a certain percentage of the monthly vehicle costs?
No, because it is benefiting the city to have the police take the vehicles home. And the detectives have a vehicle so they can be ready to respond. That way they don’t have to drive to city hall, pick up the vehicle, to go out to a call. A year ago when I was a detective over at the sheriff’s office, I took a vehicle home. Now I could not use it, I had to park it and leave it — the sheriff’s office is different than the city. But it was there to respond to calls. There are restrictions on the use of a city vehicle. You can use it to go shopping, but you can’t buy any alcohol. You can’t even buy a package. No beer runs.
Does the police department have a new public information officer?
They’ve hired a guy but I don’t think he’s here yet, and I forget the name.
Talking about the PIO, how about the city marketing director?
Renee Roach submitted her resignation, the whole marketing director position, I have had some discussions with economic development and the Chamber and some other folks, how do we actually craft that position? What does it really need to look like? What does it do? It should be complimentary to these other economic development organizations, but not duplicitous. I’m hesitant to go too far down that road, because that is a huge issue for the new city manager. We need to take a look at how we structure that. Do we need more of a PIO person for the city? Is there enough work for a separate PIO for the city? Do we need to pull in the police department PIO? I don’t know. We need to sit down and really figure that out.
It looks like most of the work has been pushed onto the support services person?
Until we figure out what we’re going to do in the new administration with the new city manager probably so. That’s not a satisfactory answer — I recognize that. I have strived to be as accessible to the media as possible, whether it’s you guys, TV, or Richard over at the radio station. But I know I can’t really fulfill what you need. You need a PIO and what do we do about the marketing? What do we do about focusing the David Hayduk (the city’s advertising consultant) contract? Who supervises that contract? Who defines what needs to be done? We’re not there yet but we need to get there.
How are the Yucca Recreation Center workshops going?
Councilor Tabitha Denny is the Parks & Recreation chair, and I asked and she agreed to take a leadership role to try and find out what do we want to do with the Yucca Center. We’ve actually got, in reality, four options. And we, as a community, need to decide what we are going to do. Option number one is to keep on keeping on — just keep doing what we’re doing, patching what we can, repairing here and there, trying to function as best we can. Number two is close the building down and try to make use of other facilities in the community, school district gyms and things like that. Option number three is to do a complete upgrade, in other words go in and bring the building up to — and I am picking a number here — a 20-year useful life. Do all the changes you need to do to the existing structure. Number four, build a new recreation center. If we do number four, there are some other questions that need to be resolved, like how big, and where, and when, but those are the four fundamental options on the Yucca Center. My approach on stuff like this is, we need to gather a lot of data and get some solid facts, and we need as a council and as a community to make a serious and sober decision on what we want to do. I don’t know where that is at right now, but that’s where we’re heading to. We need to have an analysis, a full-blown serious engineering analysis of the current structure. How bad is it? What does it really need? And that needs to be presented and worked on.
We need to have staff look at it and gather up what is the square foot cost. Here’s a question for you, if we wanted to replace it, how big would we make it? The current Yucca has, if I remember correctly, about 40,000 square feet. However, how much of that space is truly usable footage? How much of that is stairwells? How much of it is large rooms, when you don’t really need large rooms? Do you need to have stuff where you can run a temporary room divider type thing rather than have one large room? Could you have a smaller structure with in fact more usable space? And a smaller structure that would have lesser heating and cooling costs? I don’t know the answers, but those are the questions I want to get answers for.
Why does Roswell have so many city employees? Is it because of the city’s aging infrastructure?
That’s an interesting question. We’ve had, as you know, a number of city manager candidates in town, and we’ve had some comments. “You seem to have a lot of employees.” OK. Let’s examine it. That is going to be one of the issues for the new city manager. Do we have an appropriate-sized workforce? Is the workforce properly distributed? In other words, one guy was from a town about the same size, smaller workforce, but his police force was smaller, significantly — about 20 officers smaller. We’re even saying we don’t have enough police officers. So, do we have different needs? This is a comprehensive type of serious review that will come with this type of city manager, and it needs to happen.
There are complaints that residents are being cited for overgrown weeds while weeds can be seen on city properties and in alleys. What effort is the city making to control weeds on its properties and right of ways? Is the city going to cite itself?
We’ve got crews out working and we are trying to take care of it, and the intention is to encourage others to do the same. We’ve had people, elderly people call and say, “I can’t do it,” had a lady call and one of the local churches sent out a crew of five guys and they cut this lady’s weeds. The intention is not to fine people, not trying to do this as a revenue generator — the objective is, “clean it up, please.” Just cut the weeds. I am out in my alley at my house spraying Roundup to kill the weeds, mowing the lawn, just do that, just take care of it. The city’s trying to do the same thing.
If someone is elderly and needs help with their weeds, can they call the city for help?
We’re trying to — that is something we’re striving to do. We would like for them to reach out on their own, but if they don’t know anybody else they can call, then we’ll give it a shot. We’re really not interested in writing tickets and collecting fines. What we’re interested in is cleaning up the community. There is a reason for that. I mean, what lives in overgrown brush? Rodents and roaches. It’s a health issue. You don’t want that in the house next door. I had a father and adult son come to see me a week and a half ago, complaining about a neighbor’s property. These guys live in a part of town that’s a little bit tough. I wound up driving by, and saw the place and the guy they were talking about. Their place looked pretty darn good. It looked just as good as any house in my neighborhood, you know? Cleaned up, yard mowed, house taken care of. House next door? Was a dump. Trash, overgrown weeds, and they’re talking about stuff coming into their yard from this house. And they have tried to help these people, but they’ve chosen not to respond. So something needs to happen. Realize if you don’t clean up your own house, it’s not just your house that is affected. It affects your neighbors. Let’s respect each other. Clean up your property.
Has the city issued any citations for standing water?
I don’t believe we issue citations for standing water, but I know there is water out there. The mud run had some mud they hadn’t planned because of the rain. I think we have some issues with mosquitoes, but we don’t have mosquito abatement resources in the city, we contract with the county to do it, so I am a little bit ignorant about that. I’ll be candid with you, and this might get me in trouble, I will take the challenges that weeds and mosquitoes offer in exchange for the rain. I’ll take that any day of the week. I am thankful for the rain. Extremely thankful.
Question from Facebook and email: Why can’t a city the size of Roswell have a humane system to handle the lost or stray animals?
We have one. We’ve hired a replacement animal control officer, we’re in the process to try and hire an additional animal control officer, and we’ve expanded the hours during the week to 6 o’clock in the evening, added weekend hours to encourage adoption, to make it easier for people to adopt. There are some people out there on the internet and on social media, they’re not interested in facts. They just want to go on a tirade against Roswell. But the reality is we are stepping up the effort to make it easier for folks to get animals. We are clearly establishing what the guidelines are. I think we have nine, possibly 10 rescue groups that we have letters of understanding and agreement with. There are some questions about some of the transportation officers doing the right thing, but that is a minor issue. We have groups that want to take animals. We’re looking at Chief (Phil) Smith’s request that we extend the holding period to eight or nine days for rescue groups, I think what we are going to look at as a council, I’m not sure where Councilor (Jeanine) Best wants to go with this yet, but we are looking at extending it to nine days period. Just make it simple, don’t require some kind of letter of explanation. … Let’s just say we’re going to hold animals for nine days. With the same concept, days one through four are for the animal owners to reclaim it, days five, six and seven are for new adoption, and after day seven rescue groups can claim it.
Why are there no attempts to hold outside adoption events?
I’ve not heard of that, not familiar with it. That doesn’t mean people on the staff haven’t heard of it, obviously we have professionals over there. But why we’ve not done that, I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve not heard of that concept before. Is that kind of like when car lots go out to the mall and set up off site? You know, the Humane Society is right next to Animal Control, and the Humane Society will come over and take animals. They won’t take every animal, they won’t take certain breeds, but they’ll take a heck of a lot of animals. I don’t know, we’d have to look into it. I don’t know what the resources would require as far as manpower. I don’t know how that would affect our ability to respond to calls for service. But I am not going to tell you I am opposed to it. I just don’t know about it.
Why are animals not seen by a veterinarian when they are sick or injured?
I don’t know that they’re not.
Why has no outside animal shelter expert been hired to evaluate and recommend changes to be implemented?
We’ve got a group working right now, we don’t have an outside group, we’ve got inside staff working on making these changes that I just talked about, they sound like great changes. Sgt. Phil Gonzalez from the police department is overseeing it, working with the established staff, I think they’re moving forward. What I am really impressed with too is this new approach to spaying and neutering, where animal control, someone comes in and says, “I want that dog and so-and-so is my vet,” and they prepay for the procedure. Then animal control delivers the dog to the vet. The procedure is done then people come and get the animal from the vet. What I am told before is that people were circumventing the spay or neuter requirement by getting the animal and then failing to take it to the veterinarian’s office as they are required to do. Now they cannot get the animal until after the veterinary procedure is done. Another thing I like about it is they get to choose the vet. “I like this vet, the guy gives me a good price,” so it’s whoever they want to go to. I think that is a pretty neat arrangement, to be honest with you.”