Joint meeting addresses streets

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County and city of Portales officials spent the second half of a joint meeting Thursday morning sorting through “yours, mine and ours,” searching for answers to problems of maintenance on shared streets and roadways.

Tom Howell, Portales public works director, said he and Roosevelt County Road Supervisor Jackie Grimes had discussed sections of roadway they’ve always referred to as “halfers,” most of which are located on city-limits boundaries.

“The thought was that the county could take responsibility for some streets and the city could take responsibility for others,” Howell said.

Currently when one of those streets needs maintenance or replacement, both governmental bodies have to sign off on the work, which often leads to slow response to maintenance issues and frustration for everyone, Howell said.

Howell and Grimes seemed to be in agreement that something needed to be done to streamline the process.

“It would be better for the public. They’ll know who to complain to, and it’ll be easier to budget,” Grimes said.
Roosevelt County Commission Chair Dennis Lopez said his idea was to have a blanket joint-powers agreement.

“Right now I think we’ve done it by mouth only,” Portales City Councilor Jake Lopez said.

“I agree, but I would like to see you identify at least your top two priorities (first),” Portales City Manager Debi Lee said.

As discussion continued, North Avenue O surfaced as the group’s number-one priority while Industrial Drive was second. Among others discussed were Kilgore, 18th and 22nd streets.

Lee said that having joint powers agreements in place for each individual street section would also improve the ability to get projects funded at the state legislature. By doing that, one project wouldn’t be held up because of lack of agreement somewhere else.

After discussion it was agreed that city and county staffs should work out agreements on which streets to assign to each entity and bring that back to the group in the form of a draft joint-powers agreement on street maintenance.

North Avenue O, which is being redone, was a major topic of discussion, with Lopez questioning why the work on the street was taking so long.

Howell said the work for which funding is available would be complete in the next month. He said the money would leave the project about 200 feet short of Spruce Street.

“We’ve tried to make too much of that project,” Roosevelt County Commissioner Paul Grider said.

Grider said one of the problems on North Avenue O has been that gas lines are so shallow that the preferred method of milling and resurfacing can’t be safely used.
Mayor Orlando Ortega agreed, saying, “I think we underestimated it.”

Lee suggested they get estimates to finish the job and split the cost. City staff agreed to bring that estimate back to officials.

In other business:

• City officials asked the county to write a letter to Xcel Energy requesting street lighting on Kilgore Avenue. The city had initially made a request for the lighting but hadn’t been satisfied with the changes.
• City officials asked the county to be cautious in approving subdivisions within the city’s three-mile zone. Lee said they had recently been dealing with problems that should have been addressed through the city planning process but weren’t because the county approved the subdivision.