Portales residents discussed stronger ties with Eastern New Mexico University, implementing a more active downtown and the importance of the new cheese plant at a town hall meeting Thursday night at The Roosevelt.
The meeting was the first of a handful scheduled to help develop a comprehensive plan for Portales. The state of New Mexico awarded Portales a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant to prepare the plan that hopes to provide the city with a blueprint for both short- and long-term goals of development. Portales must match the $25,000 grant 100 percent.
Alva Carter, owner of Big Valley Ford, said funding for a paved road to the new cheese plant should be a short-term goal for the city.
“The new cheese plant will entail 200 new jobs,” Carter said. “We might have to spend $300,000 for the paved road, but it’s the most important and quickest thing we can do to get people into the community.”
Chuck Abbott of Big League Sports said there needs to be a stronger tie with ENMU.
One suggestion: move Greyhound Stadium into Portales. The move would benefit both the university and high school students, community members said.
“I think we need to have the stadium in town,” Portales football coach Glenn Johnson said. “Sometimes if mom and dad don’t go to the game then they (Portales students) don’t get to go to the game. It would help community involvement.”
Dale Jones said a stadium within walking distance of the ENMU campus would help increase attendance from Eastern students.
The Greyhound Arena is currently located 8.5 miles northeast of Portales. Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill said economic development was the reason the stadium is located there.
“They believed that Portales and Clovis would eventually grow together,” Gill said.
Residents said Portales is marketable because of its climate, low crime, health care, low cost of living, ENMU and volunteerism. They also stressed the importance of keeping Cannon Air Force Base in the area.
“One priority is to create a comprehensive plan,” Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “We’re not just going to build it and put it away. We want to set goals and achieve them. We want to keep reminding people of what we need to work on.”
Representatives from Consensus Consulting, Inc. helped coordinate the meeting along with Community Development Director Darla Wilhoit, City Manager Debi Lee and Ortega.