Area task force begins brainstorming

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Through discussion at a town hall meeting Wednesday, audience members agreed that work on U.S. 70 through town and a sustainable water supply were badly needed resources in the area.

The discussion came at a Governors Task Force meeting titled “Our Communities, Our Future.” Other ideas centered around revitalizing existing community buildings and recruitment of new businesses to the area.

Responding to the invitation put out by the task force, approximately 35 citizens from Portales and Roosevelt County attended the meeting. Designed to generate public input and discussion, the task force committee was formed by Gov. Bill Richardson two years ago, said Debi Lee, Portales city manager and member of the task force committee.

“It’s about livability,” said Lee. “The purpose of it (the task force) is to plan one community at a time in New Mexico.”

Beginning with a visual values exercise in which slides of other communities were shown, Ken Hughes, management analyst for the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, had the audience members rate the photos, according to what they liked or disliked. Hughes then posed four questions to the audience that initiated discussion among attendees as to what they would like to see changed in the community.

Roosevelt County Commissioner David Sanders stated that a bypass of U.S. 70 rerouting traffic would be a much needed improvement to the area. With a bypass in place, Sanders felt that this would provide more safety and help bring more business to the area.

“We want to help the traffic, that’s really a big problem,” said Sanders.
Another observation was bringing back a public place, such as the Portales Inn, where luncheon and dinner meetings could be held, said one audience member. Another notion would be to preserve historic buildings that have value for the community, said Lee.

Ideas gleaned from the meeting will be put in a report and submitted to the governor in December, said Hughes. An allotted amount of $500,000 has been issued to the Department of Finance to provide help for a community that is chosen by the governor.

Some ways that the money could be used include: Promoting the environment and reforming land use codes, said Hughes.

“All of the options go into making the community more livable,” said Hughes.

According to Lee, Portales is already a great place, but implementing some changes would not hurt the community. Holding the meeting was a way to involve the community and ask for their input, said Lee.

“We had a great turnout,” said Lee. “I think it was very productive and very visionary for local citizens to participate in and see.”