By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun
Some remember when Five Mile Park was a community gathering place. Others have only seen photos. All share the same dream: Restore the park west of town to its original grandeur.
The Metropolitan Park/Five Mile Park Restoration Committee — which includes local artists Sharon and Doug Quarles; committee President-elect Robert Pacheco; Bettie Ditto; Bronson and Sue Moore and others — said they want to take the park from its current shabby state to a whole community complex with all the amenities.
Their ultimate vision includes restoration of the pool and bath houses, trimmed trees and well-kept foliage, a retirement community and affordable housing units, miniature golf, areas for bicycling, camping for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, a batting cage and a drive-in theater.
It’s a tall order and they’re asking for help.
“The bottom line is we are going to need community support,” Pacheco said. “My goal is to get the whole community involved. Anyone who has interest in doing this should step up to the table and do their part.”
Pacheco said the group is also forming a master plan to present to the local economic development organization, county commissioners, potential investors and the public. He expects a presentation to be ready by late August or early September.
Sharon Quarles estimates the project would cost more than $1 million to complete. Volunteers are looking into government grants. In the interim, money is already starting to trickle in from fund raisers and donations. Pacheco said $17,000 was raised through a motorcycle rally and the National Park Service. Another $1,400 has come in from community donations in one month.
“All the money is fully accounted for,” Pacheco said, noting an account has been set up at First National Bank.
Pacheco said he has two main reasons for his involvement.
“Over lunch with Betty Ditto she convinced me that I would probably be the right person to do this. It is my goal, my dream and my prayers that I can deliver in her lifetime.
“The second reason is this is my community. I was born and raised here and remember the park when I was a little boy,” Pacheco said.
Said Sharon Quarles, who has helped produce several murals all over town with her husband: “Tucumcari is such a nostalgic town, reminiscent of my hometown in Louisiana. It’s so rich in culture, landscape, terrain, history — it feels like a part of us now; it’s like we’ve been here all our of lives.
“It’s just a place we’d love to share with everyone,” she said, “to restore the pride of the community.”