Year in review: 2010 was year of improvement projects

Alisa Boswell

Portales became a city of change in 2010 with various renovation projects to improve the city’s appearance and the flow of highway traffic.

According to Mayor Sharon King and City Manager Tom Howell, Portales hopes to bring even more positive changes with the new year.

One of the big projects in 2010 was the rebuilding of the Yam Theater on Main Street. According to Howell, the idea to restore the building came through the Main Street Organization, which owns the building but titled it to the city to obtain a remodeling grant. The building’s opening was part of the annual Winter Wine Festival held earlier this month.

Howell said this year, the city laid new sidewalks on First Street and added a new stoplight at Second and Main streets.

“There were some merchants who didn’t like us changing Main and Second from one-way to two-ways,” said Howell. “But from a traffic safety standpoint, it has been a very good thing.”

Howell said landscaping was also done on U.S. Highway 70 medians between Lime Street and Wal-Mart to improve the visual appearance of Portales.

“The median landscaping project was rewarding,” Howell said. “It gives people a better impression of what Portales looks like.”

Howell said in 2011, the city will rebuild Highway 70 from Kilgore to South Avenue K and will improve sidewalks and landscaping between Boston and South Avenue K. He said the city will also be looking at the current codes and regulations for weeds and other cosmetic nuisances to see if they can be improved.

“I think it’s going to majorly impact the community and really clean up downtown Portales,” he said.

Howell said the road reconstruction will begin some time in the spring and will take roughly one and a half years to finish.

One of the biggest projects for 2011, which is already in the works, is construction of a wastewater treatment plant to help better conserve water in the area.

Howell said the city recently sent out referrals for the project to engineering companies and are currently receiving proposals. He said the city will probably sign with one of the companies in January and begin the design plan for the facility shortly after.

The project will take three to four years to complete.

King said one of her biggest goals since being elected in March has been to open more lines of communication between city officials and the community. King said she is going to continue making communication a priority.

King said in 2011, she hopes to begin having regular meetings with officials and community members from Cannon Air Force Base and Eastern New Mexico University. King also wants to begin regularly meetings with junior high and high school students in the community, so she can have thoughts and ideas from people of more age groups and backgrounds.

“I’ve tried to put new people on a lot of committees and some Eastern people on some committees so they can all have a voice,” King said. “It’s definitely something you have to keep working on, but I feel like we’ve gotten off to a good start. I want people to feel like their city council is approachable.”

King said she has lived in Portales her entire life and it is important to her that every citizen of Portales have a voice, whether it is a farmer, a college student, a military member or a 13-year-old child.

“I would like to instill more pride in our community,” King said. “That’s a big deal. I don’t know if there is a way to do it, but I’d like to try.”