Ute Lake Ranch gets rollicking reaction

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Tucumcari Ranch Supply owner Jimmy Watson said he’s already seeing the bucks roll in from Ute Lake Ranch, the 25,000-acre development under construction on the outskirts of town.

And his entire family is excited about the project.
“It brings people into the community with the purpose of staying — we think that’s great,” said Watson’s wife and Ranch Supply co-owner Stella Watson.

Jimmy Watson said new business has already arrived as the rural electric company workers have purchased supplies from their store and from work going on at the golf course. The entire project is estimated to take about 20 years to complete but developers said 85 percent of the residential lots have already been sold.

Watson said he expects more new business from Tucumcari’s new neighbors in the way of landscaping and whatever folks may need for repairs around their houses.

Charlie Crowley, who fixes boat trailers, also sees dollar signs from Ute Lake Ranch. “I’m bound to make money,” he said.

In addition to business owners, Watson’s son Court Watson, a Wells Fargo Bank employee, said Ute Lake Ranch will benefit everyone who lives in Quay County.

“It brings in tax dollars,” Court Watson said. “In the long haul it will have a trickle-down effect. Anything for the county is good.”

Sharron Fitzner, a Tucumcari native who moved back after many years in California, said she is pleased to see the town leaning toward revival.

“I think people will say ‘I’m glad they are finally doing something that makes sense,’” she said.

Quay County Manager Terry Turner said he has also been met with positive reactions from the community, with only a hint of anything otherwise.

“Nearly everyone I talked to has been excited,” Turner said. “They (Ute Lake Ranch developers) put in all the money, they asked for nothing (from Quay) other than to lease our water at 100 percent profit.

“I have not really gotten a negative reaction per se,” Turner continued, “but I have a suspicion there is a certain attitude of ‘wait and see.’ There have been things in the past that have never been developed.”

Turner said Ute Lake Ranch is already in phase two of its development.

Jimmy Watson said Ute Lake Ranch seems like a situation with nothing to lose.

“What’s it gonna hurt?” he asked. “It’s not like years ago when they wanted to move in a prison facility.”