Council reviews plan prioritizing city’s projects

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

City water circulation upgrades and expansion of the Portales Cemetery topped the list of 51 capital projects in the city’s 2015-2019 Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan.

The Portales City Council reviewed and made minor changes Tuesday evening to the plan, which is used to help identify the priorities of the city’s projects. Presentation of the final ICIP for approval and adoption by resolution of the council will take place at its next meeting.

“The fire protection and water circulation upgrades will improve our water flow to fire hydrants as well as to customers,” said Capital Projects Administrator Susan Baysinger about the project that is predicted to cost a little more than $1 million.

She added improvement of the city’s water circulation will improve the city’s Insurance Services Office fire protection rating, which helps secure additional funding for fire protection.

Baysinger said the expansion of the city’s cemetery, predicted to cost $804,000, includes land acquisition and an updated sprinkler system as well as the building of additional roads.

Though councilors were told items that ranked among the first 20 are identified as priorities, councilors had a little back and forth about the ranking of a few of the projects, specifically the railroad crossings ranking below Portales downtown pedestrian facilities.

Baysinger told the councilors the downtown pedestrian facilities project was a Portales MainStreet Program project and may include striping in crosswalks, trash receptacles and benches in the downtown district.

Ward B Councilor Oscar Robinson had a problem with that project ranking higher than the railroad crossings at the streets of Boston, Lime, Spruce and Avenues I and K.

“More people have complained to me about those railroad tracks, specifically the one at Boston,” Robinson said.

Councilor Antonio Salguero said the tracks have also been a problem for his constituents.

“That’s something I always wanted to get fixed. If you don’t drive across them every day, then maybe you don’t know,” Salguero said.

But Councilor Dianne Parker said the downtown pedestrian facilities are important because it may enhance public safety for pedestrians in the downtown area.

“I just want to be proactive,” Parker said, alluding that she wouldn’t want to take action and increase safety measures after a pedestrian gets injured.

Ultimately the councilors agreed that because the two projects were both in the top 20, their placement doesn’t matter, but the councilors still voted to switch the two projects rankings.

There were also questions about the Portales Inn being taken over as a city project, and though City Manager Doug Redmond said the city is in the process of acquiring ownership of the building, it still has to be put on the plan so that if it does become the city’s property, officials can pursue funding.

If the council officially approves the plan and its changes at its next meeting, a submitted copy of the ICIP and resolution will be sent to the State Capital Outlay Unit in the Department of Finance and Administration at the end of the month. The city will then be able to actively seek funding resources for the projects identified in the plan, according to Baysinger.

Top 10 city capital improvement projects scheduled to start in 2015:
1. Fire protection and water circulation upgrades: $1 million
2. Cemetery expansion: $804,000
3. Purchase loader (Streets Department): $205,000
4. Memorial Building improvements: $300,000
5. New fire sub station: $1.15 million
6. Well field improvements: $4.4 million
7. Purchase brush truck (Fire Department): $90,000
8. Ute Water Project: $1.4 million
9. Rotary Park and ball field improvements: $182,000
10. Senior Center improvements: $180,000

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