Designer, team present downtown plan

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Visions of a new downtown plan that might include a place on the courthouse square for domino players and families to gather was the focus of the “Work in Progress” portion of the Portales Downtown Plan presentation on Wednesday night.

The “Work in Progress” presentation was an opportunity for Lee Einsweiler and his team of designers from Code Studio to present to the public an outline for the downtown area. The plan was designed based on input from the community and public officials and research of the area by the design team.

“This is an attempt to filter the ideas we got from you on Saturday,” Einsweiler said during the presentation.

Key issues discussed at the presentation focused on calming the traffic flow, utilizing available land, bringing activity to the area after 5 p.m. and restoring and retaining the character in the area, Einsweiler said.

Incorporating the old with the new was designed into a new look for the courthouse square. One of the ideas that kept arising was to bring back the domino players to the square, Einsweiler said.

By moving all parking to the back lot, the front lawn would be extended to Second Street. Patios could be placed where activities, such as playing dominos, could take place. Having parking in a central location would also provide for a more secure environment, Einsweiler said.

Landscaping would also continue to be incorporated throughout the downtown area. Rerouting streets to provide safer paths of travel and making better use of available resources were also highlighted during the presentation. Other suggestions included bringing new business to the area that would draw the community in, such as a bookstore and cafes.

“It’s very exciting for us to come to a town this size and see a big juicy pot of money to spend,” Einsweiler said.

Currently the city has available $1.7 million in funding for various aspects of the proposed plan, Einsweiler said.

“It’s doable. It’s honestly doable, it may take some time,” said Portales City Manager Debi Lee.

The city received a $55,000 liveability grant that has allowed them to pursue the possibility of providing a safer and more user-friendly downtown area, Lee said.

Einsweiler expects to be back in the area in 60 days with a plan draft and a code draft of the proposed project, he said.

Though the design team has finished up for this part, citizens, business owners and officials are encouraged to continue putting forth ideas they wish to see, Lee said.

For more information on the project, visit the city of Portales website at www.portalesnm.org.