Council will consider greenery for entry points, courthouse

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

The comprehensive plan for the Portales downtown area includes greenery around the Roosevelt County Courthouse and gateway structures at key points.

At the Portales City Council meeting Tuesday in City Hall, Lee D. Einsweiler of Code Studio design company from Austin, Texas, presented the comprehensive plan.

Einsweiler suggested five places as gateways to downtown Portales: the spot where U.S. 70 splits into First and Second streets on the northeast side of town, the place two alleys meet on First between Abilene and Main streets, the intersection of Fourth Street and Main, and the intersection of Avenue B and Second.

For the U.S. 70 split, Einsweiler recommended a large structure people could see from many places around town.

“There’s some major opportunity for something that would provide orientation for the community,” he said.

For the other sites, Einsweiler recommended arches over the roads.

“You really want to give people a sense of arrival,” he said.

As for the courthouse, Einsweiler envisions trees and enhancements to the area in front of the building.

“This needs to be the green oasis of the community,” he said.

Planners would research which tree type would be best for limiting the number of birds that roosted in the trees, Einsweiler said.

In addition, he planned for a few areas, probably xeriscaped, that would come out from the sidewalk into the parking lane across from the courthouse on First Street. Plans also include trees beside the courthouse parking lot on First and Second streets.

With trees beside the road, Einsweiler said, birds would congregate less. Traffic bothers the birds, and the tree branches wouldn’t be big enough to stretch over vehicles for 20 or 30 years, he said.

For the building’s entrance, Einsweiler would like to see a “New Mexico plaza” between the sidewalks leading up to the door. The floor of the plaza would show the Zia symbol in colored concrete pavers and be 45 to 50 feet across.

Other sidewalks would draw people to the statue of Washington Ellsworth Lindsey and a planned memorial to the writers of the salute to the New Mexico flag. One structure would be on each side of the plaza area, and the hands statue on the east side would move to a new location, Einsweiler said.

Councilor Shawn Watson said trees at the courthouse have been planted and removed twice. He also said the city is encouraging water conservation and needs to be an example.

Watson supported a desert landscaping.

In other business, the council:

• accepted the 2006-2007 audit report, which City Manager Debi Lee said showed the city in good financial standing.

• instructed Municipal Court Judge Fred Arnold to take his request for a salary increase to the finance committee. Arnold is requesting a raise from $20,000 to $27,500.

• approved notices of intent to annex land on the corner of N.M. 206 and 22nd Street and change the zoning of the property to a multi-family residential area.

• approved a grant agreement decreasing the required matching funds from the city for the comprehensive downtown plan.

• heard a report on housing and projected housing needs from Ed Starkie of Urban Advisers in Portland, Ore.