By Tony Parra
The governor’s signature is the only thing halting some $85,000 in upgrades for the Portales downtown area.
The funding was approved through the Legislature for the Portales MainStreet Program. Originally the request was for $125,000. The main street program consists of three levels: city, state and national.
Danny Woodward, president of the main street program in Portales, said the program committee will narrow the priorities for spending the money by mid-March. Woodward said the first project for main street was accomplished through private funding and the city helped in the tearing out of the old sidewalk.
“That’s when we got the ball rolling,” Woodward said. “We were able to gain momentum and go through legislation and grants for more help.”
Woodward said businesses located around the downtown square paid for their portion of the sidewalk in the 100 block of West 2nd Street. Woodward and Community Development Director Darla Wilhoit said the $85,000 can be increased through matching grants from the state.
Portales Economic Development Director Darla Wilhoit said before the Legislature only $115,000 was committed to the New Mexico MainStreet program. The lobbyists requested $235,000 this session.
However, this is not the final total.
“We will match the fund 50 percent up to $100,000 if it passes,” Owen Lopez, of the McCune Foundation of Santa Fe, said. “The foundation’s principal focus is on economic development. Rick Homans (secretary of economic development of New Mexico) came to talk to me and this (main street program) was one of their primary initiatives.”
The McCune Foundation offered to match up to $100,000 which would make the total for the New Mexico MainStreet program $450,000.
“To my understanding, it wasn’t intended to match specific communities but that it would go into the fund for economic development department of New Mexico and its main street program. They will be responsible in distributing the money.”
Lopez said the McCune Foundation supported Artesia in its main street program and also donated $7 million to revitalizing the downtown Albuquerque area.
The New Mexico MainStreet Program assists local communities in revitalizing their downtown areas by providing technical assistance and expertise, resources and training to the communities, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Web site.
Lopez and Wilhoit said the New Mexico municipalities can request funding from the state main street program. However, the $85,000 is strictly for the city of Portales and its main street program.