Councilors address street concerns

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

As the Portales City Council’s regular meeting drew to a close Tuesday, Councilor Jake Lopez finally spoke about what had been on the minds of many — road conditions in Portales.

“Our streets are terrible,” Lopez summed as he questioned what could be done.

Lopez said he was referring specifically to the potholes on First and Second streets and he was also concerned about pavement breaks on a recently paved section of Lime Street caused by the installation of a fiber optic network.

City manager Debi Lee said contractors are required to fix any break as good or better than it was previously. She said because First and Second streets (U.S. 70) are maintained by the state, the potholes popping up there since cold, wet weather set in are more frustrating.
Mayor Orlando Ortega and Lee told Lopez regular contact has been made with the highway department. They said the state had filled pot holes just before the snow but it didn’t last.

“What’s needed is a complete rebuild,” Ortega said. “Weekly, we call the state highway department for repairs.”

Lee told councilors the city had applied for funds for improvements to the roads through the GRIP II program last year but because it was a U.S. highway it had lost priority on the state’s list of projects. She said it was unlikely to be funded until 2011.

Ortega suggested councilors try to get a meeting with New Mexico Transportation Secretary Rhonda Fought while they are in Santa Fe to lobby the Legislature.

In the meantime, Lee said if something didn’t happen soon she would likely have city crews work on the pot holes.

City officials also approved a contract for architectural services to design needed repairs and improvements and come up with a master plan for the city pool.

The contract was awarded to Design Plus in collaboration with Wilson and Wilson. Design Plus is a firm specializing in public pool design while Wilson is a local firm.

“This has been a tough contract to negotiate,” Lee commented. “They’ve done pools nationwide and normally do larger projects”

The designs will include repairs that have to be done before the pool reopens in the spring to bring it up to code. Those repairs in the first phase of the work are partially covered by capital outlay from the 2006 Legislature. The second phase will require additional funds that the city is seeking in the 2007 legislature. The second phase seeks to create a master plan to redesign and expand the pool and add recreational amenities, according to Lee.

“There needs to be a lot of public input on the master plan,” Lee said, noting there would likely be public hearings once they have a design and cost estimates.

In other business:

• Councilors awarded a contract for Geographic Information Services to Wilson and Company.

• Approved a notice of intent to adopt an ordinance replacing the city’s building code to bring it into state and insurance standards.

• Approved a request for authorization of signatures on certifications and assurances for the Portales Area Transit grant.

• Approved a contract for financial consultant services with Rob Burpo of First American Financial Advisers.

• Approved mid-year budget adjustments.

• Appointed Gary Carter to an open position on the recreation advisory board.

• Ratified several appointments to the Local Growth Management Committee.