By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
The Roosevelt County Commission has decided to look into options for changing parking on Second Street at the County Courthouse in response to complaints from business owners across the street.
Tuesday the owners asked for the return of parking spaces that courthouse parking lot remodeling had shifted to other sides of the building.
Parallel parking spaces in front of the businesses and other lots near Second Street remain.
Business owners said the distance to parking for their establishments was negatively impacting business.
Todd Pebsworth of Pebsworth Insurance said moving the parking was a mistake and he wanted the spaces back.
“It would help immensely,” he said.
Buz Goodson of Bar G Western and Casual Wear said in just a week he had collected petition signatures from more than 300 customers unhappy with the parking situation.
Sam Rigsby, owner of Investments Out West gallery, asked to keep landscaping at the corners of the Courthouse Square, but restore parking in between them along Second.
“I can’t see how that would affect the overall appearance of the courthouse,” he said.
Portales City Manager Debi Lee said she had heard many positive comments about the remodel.
Rigsby complained of traffic backing up and blocking businesses because of the stop signs at the intersection of Second and Main Street. However, he later said a stop light synchronized with the one at Avenue C and Second would help.
Main Street is scheduled to become a two-way street next week, and a synchronized stop light for Second and Main is coming, Lee said.
Portales attorney Randy Knudson said he saw the remodel as a tremendous improvement in the courthouse’s appearance.
“I just don’t understand how shifting a couple of parking spaces can have this dramatic of an impact and now cost the taxpayers another $60,000 or $70,000,” he said.
Public input was invited on the remodeling plans.
Rigsby said the end result surprised him despite seeing the plans. Fern Goodson of Bar G said it was probably a mistake not to have complained earlier.
In another matter, Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation Director Greg Fisher said the recession reached Portales in January, when milk prices dropped drastically, but there were still bright points in the local economy.
“We’ve got to see milk prices come up to avoid what’s probably a ripple effect in big ticket spending,” Fisher said.
However, he said the community is growing and Eastern New Mexico University expects an increase of more than 300 students.