City OKs bonds for $84 million

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Two major million-dollar projects regarding a new housing development for Eastern New Mexico University and expansion of the DairiConcepts plant took center stage at Thursday’s city meeting.

Portales city councilors authorized the issuance of student housing revenue bonds in the amount of $14 million to finance the project. The bonds would be paid back over 30 years with the money generated from renting out to students, according to ENMU documents. The city is not obligated to finance any part of the project.

During the city meeting, ENMU President Steven Gamble spoke on the behalf of the housing development.

“It’s very important to us,” Gamble said. “If you have been through our residence halls you can see they are worn out. The new housing development will provide 275 beds at a level of comfort we haven’t been able to provide before.”

ENMU officials want to begin construction on the housing development in the fall.

The three apartment complexes would provide one-bedroom apartments with an expected rent of $511 per month per bed, while the two-bedroom apartment would cost $451 per month per bed. The four-bedroom apartment would rent for $351 per month, per bed, according to a previous PNT article. A swimming pool and community center would also be constructed as part of the development.

Also, during Thursday’s city meeting councilors approved the resolution for industrial revenue bonds for a $70 million DairiConcepts project expansion. The city government, also, is not financially obligated to the project.

The $70 million project will increase production by paying for the costs of equipment and more tanks, and should help alleviate odor problems, according to plant officials.

Brian Bonebright, vice president of operations for Dairi Concepts, during a meeting with property owners in June said the new wastewater plant will use more land to discharge the wastewater to reduce the odors.

DairiConcepts officials say they currently use 230 acres for a lagoon to store wastewater. Michelle Hunter, environmental scientist, said with the proposal the plant would have an additional 1,130 acres located near the old lagoon to store the wastewater.

During a June city meeting, Ed Steven, DairiConcepts plant manager, said plant employees want to begin increased production of milk protein concentrate by March 20. Plant officials say they want to keep up with the increased milk production of eastern New Mexico by increasing plant output.