School board briefed on downtown plan

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales City Manager Debi Lee and Community Affairs Coordinator Nicole Wilkening brought Portales school board members up to speed on a recent community planning process aimed at improving the city’s downtown.

Lee told board members designers used a process called a design charrette in which community members share their vision of the future. Planners pared down the ideas into a workable plan that will eventually have new city codes attached to specific areas.

“We really hope to have this code in place by January,” Lee said. “That’s going to dictate what can be done in that area.”

Lee told school board members that city councilors have even approved a moratorium on development downtown until the planning process is complete.

Board member Inez Rodriguez asked Lee about ownership of property on Main Street, wondering if it was privately owned, how redevelopment could occur.

Lee said the city had been fortunate enough to obtain several properties downtown and would be redeveloping them. She said while the Portales MainStreet organization was making it easy for business owners to buy into the planning, in some cases it would be difficult for private property owners.

“The key, Inez, is to acquire those properties and have someone come in and design something,” Lee said.

Lee said the city and MainStreet have approximately $1.7 million in grants available for various projects. She said work may be held up a little longer as the city completes a master plan of the downtown. Lee said the state just announced Portales received a $50,000 grant this week to accomplish that master plan document.

She said she was hopeful some of the projects would begin next spring.

In other business the school board:

• Approved an amended notice of bond sale, delaying the sale of the bonds for the new Steiner-Lindsey Elementary School one day. The change was necessary because the agent had inadvertently scheduled the sale day for Nov. 12, which is Veterans Day, a federal holiday.

• Rescheduled its regular meeting to Nov. 13.

• Gave approval for the Portales High School Ram Band students to travel out of state to attend a function at Disneyland.

• Declared eight Trane three-ton gas heating and electric cooling units as surplus and authorized the sale of the units. The units were purchased this summer for Steiner Elementary, but were found to be the wrong type in an error by the architect. Superintendent Randy Fowler said the district has a buyer and will sell them to get the money back and not replace the units since that building will eventually be demolished after the construction of the new school.