By Leslie Radford
Some Tucumcari residents are concerned about a proposed retention pond in the 1100 block of Rankin Street.
But Joe Garcia, project manager for the state, told a crowd of about 15 people on Monday the pond will be environmentally safe and they probably won’t notice it once it’s completed.
Officials said the project would replace the current drainage system, which consists of a ditch that collects run-off water from First, Barnes and Rankin Streets. The ditch water eventually empties into Tucumcari Lake east of town.
Construction on the new retention pond is scheduled to begin after March.
Resident Abel Aragon organized a meeting with New Mexico government officials Monday morning to discuss neighborhood concerns.
Several residents were afraid the pond would attract mosquitoes and ultimately be a health and safety problem. The current ditch system immediately allowed water to be carried to the lake, according to Aragon.
Aragon said several people in the area had health problems and that being in an area with standing water would complicate those health issues.
“My main concern was how it would affect property value and if it would attract mosquitoes to the area,” said Joe Chavez, who lives in the neighborhood and has rental property that might be affected by the project.
Aragon and other residents were convinced the only problem with the current system was that the ditches needed to be cleaned out.
“This system has worked for over 40 years,” Aragon said.
Garcia told residents there are new standards to uphold on drainage systems and the one in place does not meet those standards.
Garcia said the project has been in the works for about 7 years.
Before the meeting was over, Garcia had most residents convinced the retention project was more beneficial than harmful.
“I think this is something we can live with,” Aragon said. “(This meeting) gave me some peace of mind, as well as some of the other residents.”
The proposed pond has a 36-hour maximum retention span that will drain water within that time period, Garcia said.
“After that time, there will be no standing water,” Garcia said.
He said the pond will more than likely drain in less than 36 hours.
The pond will be lined and have a filtering system to clean out any oil and other environmentally hazardous chemicals that drain off of Tucumcari streets before emptying into the lake, Garcia said.
The two-acre pond will be enclosed with a chain-link fence in order to keep out trespassers. City officials will hold keys to the gates.
Garcia also assured residents the pond would have a park-like quality to it. “This should not affect property values in any way,” he said. “It will be attractive to those living in the area. You probably won’t even notice it’s here.”