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The Roswell City Council will consider giving approval to the final $3 million concept and engineering drawings for the proposed redevelopment of the Downtown Rail District at its meeting this week.
If the project is approved, MainStreet Roswell is expected to apply for state funding and grants to pay for the project.
The city council’s finance committee heard a presentation on the project at its meeting last Thursday and voted 3-0 to recommend approval by the full city council.
Councilmen Jason Perry, Margaret Kennard and Jacob Roebuck voted to recommend the project. Councilor Juan Oropesa was absent.
The full board will meet Thursday at 6 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, 912 N. Main. Due to state health orders, the public is invited to participate electronically. The meeting will be streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel. Those wishing to participate electronically can do so through GoToMeeting virtual meeting software.
The Market Walk is a MainStreet Roswell project, which received a $100,000 Great Blocks grant from New Mexico’s MainStreet Capital Outlay public infrastructure program in November 2019 to develop design concepts.
The city provided $20,000 in matching funds for this grant and, if additional funding is received, would act as the fiscal agent for the project.
Robert Loftis, director of MRWM Landscape Architects of Albuquerque, told committee members that the Great Blocks program aims to reinvigorate historic areas of New Mexico communities.
“New Mexico MainStreet has historically followed with significant construction dollars for these projects, so it’s not something the city would bear the brunt of as we move into construction,” he said.
“We understand that right now in the Legislature there’s about $10.1 million that they’re asking for to fund these types of projects and we’re hoping to get some of that and actually be able to build that,” Juanita Jennings , City of Roswell public affairs director, said.
The design aims to create an iconic venue for downtown events, Loftis said, with flexibility for a variety of uses, pedestrian amenities, parking and accommodations for food trucks and vendors, did he declare.
Located between an Xcel Energy substation just north of Walnut Street and a warehouse on Second Street, it would feature a large event lawn with a performance stage on the south end and a dining area or beer garden on the north . There would be a children’s playground, a water feature evoking Bottomless Lakes State Park, and trees and structures for shade.
The driveway between Second and Walnut streets on the west side of the Market Walk area would be paved and provide parking.
“We are also considering developing the gravel parking lot further south and across from the Bone Springs Art Center. This is a public car park and people used to use the driveway, which has become more of a pedestrian walkway, or there is a side walk on the side of the railway tracks which also serves as a maintenance and delivery block” , said Loftis.
The driveway, although pedestrian-oriented, could still be used by area businesses for daily deliveries, he said.
“We design concrete to be walkable. The idea, though, is that at events you would ban anyone from driving on them and it would be a pedestrian type driveway instead,” he said.
The overall design of the Market Promenade is railway themed, with designs of railway tracks in the cobbled promenade areas and a water feature designed as an old railway water tower. A fence between the space and the railway line to the east would allow people to see the trains passing.
The designers encountered unforeseen challenges, Loftis said, as there are concrete foundations from an old power plant that would be cost prohibitive to remove.
“The lawn in the center is going to be raised about 2 feet above the square so we can go over it and not disturb those foundations,” he said.
Loftis said his company was working with a local engineering firm, Smith Engineering, as a consultant to address issues such as stormwater drainage.
Construction would be completed in two phases, with much of it in the $2.1 million first phase.
The second phase would build the first street, driveway and parking areas at a cost of approximately $835,000.
Councilman Jacob Roebuck asked about the possibility that food trucks could set up shop there even when there are no special events.
Jennings said this was discussed during the design phase and electricity would be supplied to several areas.
“Power is concentrated on First Street for the formal food truck parking lot where they can pull up and plug straight into an outlet, but for other events or if they have a generator, they can park in multiple locations. “said Loftis.
Roebuck said the project is a good investment for downtown, tourism and attracts new people to settle in Roswell.
“It’s a great way for the city to say it’s important,” he said.
Council will also consider allowing a public hearing into an order that would affect the Market Walk project. The change would include the Market Walk area in the code regarding building height requirements, off-street parking, loading areas and landscaping.
City Council will also consider approving a service agreement with MainStreet Roswell for business retention, development and recruitment. The $60,000 per year agreement adds $20,000 to previous agreements to support the organization’s efforts to hire an experienced executive director.
However, an amendment to the agreement that was posted on the city’s calendar website Friday afternoon removes a portion that reads, “The covenants set forth in this section shall survive termination or expiration of this Agreement”.
Other items on Thursday’s City Council agenda include:
• Public hearings and possible votes on ordinances with changes to city code regarding temporary signs, such as those for political campaigns and estate sales; and an order that would repeal the Roswell Clean Air Act and replace it with one that would include protections against secondhand smoke from cannabis products.
• Resolutions adopting the fiscal year 2021 municipal audit and corrective action plan and approving the determination of uncollectible accounts.
• Two zoning cases in which council will consider final flat approval in the development of new car dealerships by Krumland Auto on West Second Street.
• Approved $75,000 in funding to support a public art project using the old Spring River Park playground rocket.
• Approval of the proposed construction of a new columbarium and burial shelter at South Park Cemetery. The $849,537 cost would be paid from the city’s allocation from the US bailout.
• The purchase of four new John Deere Gator utility vehicles for the Pecos Valley Equipment fleet department for $63,100. Street-legal vehicles would be equipped with sprayers and booms that the parks department would use to spray herbicides and vector control chemicals instead of using backpack sprayers.
• City Manager Joe Neeb will give a presentation on the City’s utility billing system.
• A closed session to discuss attorney-client privilege regarding pending or pending litigation involving the US Army Corps of Engineers.