City ready to rid itself of abandoned buildings

Mike Linn

Maybe the black, green-eyed cat lounging against the wall of the Saga Motel on Wednesday afternoon was waiting for somebody to let it in. After all, the motel’s sign does read “vacancy.”
But city officials say the motel located on Avenue D across from the Cattle Baron restaurant has not been operational for more than 15 years. The white paint on the outdoor walls has pealed and chipped away in the arid sun. Wooden boards cover the motel’s entrances and windows. And scattered among the property is debris of every description: outdated shopping bags, plastic cups and beer bottles with born-on dates too faded to read.
The building has become more than an eyesore to the community, city officials say, and on Tuesday city council members adopted a resolution allowing them to demolish such structures if they so choose.
“These abandoned buildings don’t help you in promoting your community and marketing your community to those coming from the outside in,” Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “I think the folks in our community deserve the best they can get, and part of my job is to work to try to make it a nice, clean community.”
Ortega pinpointed the Saga Motel and the Hillcrest Motel on Highway 70 as two dilapidated, abandoned buildings that need to be removed.
Neither building’s owner immediately returned phone calls on Wednesday.
City Manager Gerry Depo said he will send out requests for proposals in the near future seeking price quotes on the demolition and hauling of waste from both buildings.
City council members must approve the prices before either building can be demolished, and a decision on both motels could come as soon as the next city council meeting, scheduled for Aug. 5.
Depo said he has received many phone calls from concerned residents about community cleanliness and abandoned buildings.
“We’ve been working on this for a while,” Depo said. “It’s gotten high priority now given the fact that the mayor has lent his support, which is really very important.”
There are about 4,800 structures in Portales, almost 200 of which are abandoned, Depo said.
“The city doesn’t want to demolish every abandoned building,” Ortega said. “The council will make decisions on a case-by-case basis and are really concerned about the ones that are most visible to the public.”