Commissioners back off parking issue

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

The Roosevelt County Commission voted 3-2 today to delay any decisions about Courthouse parking until a stoplight is installed at Main and Second streets.

Commissioners Gene Creighton, David Sanders and Paul Grider voted for the motion to delay. Commissioners Jake Lopez and Bill Cathey voted against the it.

Recent renovations shifted parking spaces from the Second Street side of the courthouse lot to other areas and eliminated three spaces. Some business owners in the area have complained and asked the commission to re-evaluate.

County Manager Charlene Hardin said Clovis engineer Chad Lydick provided an estimate of about $30,500 for reinstalling 14 parking spaces, the maximum possible, along Second Street.

However, Hardin said Lydick used prices from the original construction, and raw materials costs might have gone up.

Mobilization expenses would also be higher because the contractor no longer has equipment in the area, she said.

In addition, Hardin said the estimate doesn’t include insurance costs.

Creighton offered the motion to delay looking because he thought the lack of a signal light was causing the majority of problems.

“And I just hate to slap the (Portales MainStreet) people in the face, that worked for two years putting this together,” he said.

Creighton said he is always able to find a parking space in the area, even if none are open in the courthouse parking lot.

Lopez said if landscaping were completed and commissioners wanted to change it back to parking spaces, it would “ruin everything.”
Lopez said business owners are the ones who bring in gross receipts tax.

County Attorney Randy Knudson said there are people who oppose reinstalling parking spaces, including Danny Woodward, owner of Woody’s Jewelry on Second Street.

With federal stimulus money paying for the landscaping, Hardin said, she hopes to have that money by August. Landscaping the south side of the parking lot is the last phase of the work.

Portales City Councilor Ron Jackson said he thought Main Street becoming two way along the square would open up parking spaces along the road. He didn’t know when that would happen, but said it would be before the stoplight was installed.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved a Memorandum of Agreement allowing the county to use state Department of Health funds to build a new facility for the Public Health Office next to the existing building.

• Approved the audit report for the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

• Voted to lease a bulldozer for the Roads Department to use for four months at the cost of $11,000 per month.

• Learned the state gave preliminary approval for next fiscal year’s budget.