Downtown cleaned up before busy season

By Christina Calloway
Senior writer

Despite Wednesday reaching 100-degrees, community members committed to an organized cleanup of downtown to beautify their city.
Portales MainStreet Director Debralynn Soza said it was her board that noticed a change needed to be made in an effort to continue to grow the life in downtown Portales.

“We need to get Downtown cleaned up,” Soza said. “We noticed weeds in front of the Yam (Theatre). If we noticed it, we know someone has noticed it.”
Soza said her board wanted to be proactive so they set the cleanup for Wednesday evening before a lot of larger community events were to take place downtown.

The project has a lot of community involvement because MainStreet partnered with the Portales DWI Teen Court Program to recruit volunteers as well as the local probation officer. Members of the board and other community partners have also came out to lend a hand.

The city’s New Mexico Clean and Beautiful program also donated gloves and other materials for the cleanup.

One of the larger components of the project is the reworking of the downtown parking lot on Third Street and Avenue A.

With the redesign, volunteers were able to add two parking spaces and fix the traffic flow so it can be safer for drivers.

“It makes downtown more pedestrian friendly,” said MainStreet Board President Amelia Christensen. “The whole goal is to make downtown more friendly.”

On Wednesday volunteers were pulling weeds and picking up trash.

Mark van Nieuwkoop, an employee of HomeSpot in Portales, volunteered with his wife Janice.

“I think this area is good. I want to make it look nice,” van Nieuwkoop said. “Especially with summer coming up, people want to walk outside.”

Van Nieuwkoop said he’s been to a few events held at the Yam Theatre and enjoys dining at the restaurants downtown, so as a patron, he wants to see the area clean.

“I just want to try to get people down here and spruce it up and make it more inviting for people to come visit,” he said.

His wife added that participating in the service event is a great way to meet new people, especially since she’s new to the area.

Soza said she hopes to get a mural in the parking lot repainted some time soon to liven up that area and volunteers have already primed that wall.

With class reunions in the works this summer, Soza knows that downtown will become more frequented by visitors.

“So there’s all these people coming in that are going to use that parking lot…and we want them to realize Portales is a gem and that is unique.”