City officials look to future with comprehensive plan

By Tony Parra

The future of Portales is not set in stone, but it is set in paper and Mayor Orlando Ortega and city councilors will have a chance to adopt the comprehensive plan of Portales’ future on March 1.
The comprehensive plan shows in what direction the leaders of Portales want the community to look like and the economic development of it. If adopted on March 1, the comprehensive plan will be for March of 2005 to 2025.
Ortega and councilors will have the adoption of the comprehensive plan on the agenda for March 1 city meeting. Consensus Planning Inc. representatives of Albuquerque, the firm hired by Portales city officials to compose a comprehensive plan, gave city councilors an overview of the plan during the week.
“The comprehensive plan is meant to be a 20-year project,” Jackie Fishman, Consensus Planning planner, said. “It is to be altered periodically if needed.”
City officials have copies of the 151-page comprehensive plan draft. The development of the comprehensive plan began with the appointment of a steering committee, made up of community members, to help in the search of a city planner in August of 2003.
“I’m getting requests to talk about the comprehensive plan and that’s good,” Debi Lee, city manager, said. “We’re in full swing right now. Ron (Jackson, city councilor) is working on short and long-term plans on the recreation center and what is needed.”
City officials selected Consensus Planning, Inc. in October of 2003 to put together the comprehensive plan. Consensus Planning, Inc. representatives held town meetings to get a feel of what the Portales residents wanted Portales’ future to look like.
“With the Holiday Express coming in, it shows growth in Portales,” John Valdez, planner with Consensus Planning from Albuquerque. “Portales and Clovis are both looking to build subdivisions. The timing (of the comprehensive plan) is very useful right now.”
In the first meeting in Feb. of 2004 residents discussed moving Greyhound Arena closer to Portales, and in another meeting a short-term goal was discussed about the weed problem in Portales and cleaning up the town.
Consensus Planning, Inc. officials held another planning meeting in June in which residents talked about ways of improving the landscaping and comparing which would be the better option for Portales, from turf to xeroscaping.
Consensus Planning, Inc. representatives compiled the historical data with the information from meetings and projections to put together the final draft of the comprehensive plan. The data showed Roosevelt County has the third lowest rate of unemployment in the state of New Mexico, 2.9 percent, as of August of 2004.
“There is a great need for job skills programs in Portales,” Fishman said. “Some construction companies feel if there were skilled people in Portales, there would be more construction companies in Portales.”
Now, Portales city officials are within two weeks of adopting the plan. Fishman advised the comprehensive plan should be adopted as a resolution so city officials could make changes and periodic updates.
The state of New Mexico awarded Portales a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant to prepare a comprehensive plan and Portales had to match the $25,000. Portales city officials hired Consensus Planning, Inc. for $50,000.