Friday, two members of the National Park Service and one of the Historic Preservation Division of the State of New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs came to Tucumcari to announce that they had not forgotten about Tucumcari’s Five-Mile Park and were remembering it with a $10,000 grant.
“We care about this,” said National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Manager Michael Romero Taylor about Five-Mile Park. “It is a very special place.”
Taylor said that it was one of the reasons that he, NPS Cultural Resource Specialist Kaisa M. Barthuli and New Mexico Architectural Historian John W. Murphey were in Tucumcari. They were sharing their expertise and some seed money to get movement started on the refurbishment of the long-time Tucumcari landmark.
“We know it means a great deal to the people of Tucumcari, but it also means quite a bit to us too. We have learned much of its value from people like Bettie Ditto,” said Taylor. “It’s an important part of the community – of the history of the community.” Barthuli said that was one of the reasons the National Park Service and the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs were helping with Five-Mile Park so avidly. “The craftsmanship is so very high on all of it,” said Barthuli about the recreation area that for decades and generations entertained both the people of Tucumcari and travelers going through on Route 66. “It is amazing the skill level that went into it. It had such handiwork and personal touches.”
Murphey said it was indeed sad that both the bathhouse and pool have been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.
“It is a valuable relic that’s been neglected,” said Murphey about the complex west of town. “It is a very, very important property that needs to be taken care of soon or it will be lost. The north wall needs to be addressed soon.”
The specialists said that it would not be impossible, that once sufficient funds are in place the park can be brought back to its grandeur in less than a decade. “And the money is out there,” said Taylor. “We just need to get it here.”