by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
Business owners express interest
in the state MainStreet program
About 25 business owners and city officials met Tuesday morning to foster the beginning of what is hoped will become Tucumcari’s new MainStreet initiative.
Peter Kampfer, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., and David Buchen, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mesalands Community College, hosted the meeting to garner support for the project.
Kampfer also said that representatives of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, which sponsors the MainStreet projects, would also be coming to Tucumcari to determine if Tucumcari’s Main Street vision merited the state’s investment.
It’s envisioned that the city’s MainStreet project would extend about a half mile on either side of First Street and about five blocks on either side of Main Street, Kampfer said.
In the meantime, to qualify for the program, a separate nonprofit organization will have to be established, Buchen said.
Bettie Ditto, a former city commissioner, said, “I think this would meld the city back together.”
County Commissioner Bill Curry said, “There’s a lot of mystique about a historical downtown area. … Our image is very important to the traveling public. They will go there if there’s a reason to.”
Mayor Mary Mayfield said, “Downtown is the heart of Tucumcari. It’s tied to people’s emotions. It can be a place where people can meet and greet and a place they can have pride in. It can make a totally different person. It can change how we react to each other and others in the community. They look to people who have the initiative and the willpower before they change their attitude.”
Tella Morris, who with her husband, Harvey, opened a well-drilling company in Tucumcari several years ago, said she has found a troubling mix among their customers who are newcomers to the city.
“There are people who say this is their dream spot,” Morris said. However, there are others who have left because they said they had not found enough interesting here to stay.
The downtown area needs to recover, she said. “We need to get something going.”
Doug Quarles, who, with his wife, Sharon, has painted at least a dozen murals on the walls of Tucumcari’s businesses, said, “People are interested in the old historical buildings in a town. These old buildings really need to be saved.”
The potential for tours and becoming a tourist destination would be an economic plus for Tucumcari, Quarles said. “We need to save the buildings,” he stressed.
James Crocker of LeDean Studio agreed that the old buildings needed to stay. He also said that Highway 54 should be re-routed back through the Main Street area so that the stores would have the opportunity for more businesses.
Kampfer said that as gas prices rise, people in Tucumcari would be less inclined to drive to other cities to shop. In five years, with gas prices rising, “People won’t be able to afford to drive 80 to 100 miles to shop. There will be a lot of pressure to develop other businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, downtown is getting a little boost from the construction of two new buildings, one that will become the new office for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles in Tucumcari and the other that will become new offices for the state’s Children Youth and Families Department.
Tucumcari City Manager Richard Primrose said the city has been trying to lay the foundation for change and development by improving its infrastructure, with updated utilities that can support new businesses.
And Ruth Nelson, who recently bought a furniture store and is redesigning its operations, said she had wanted to see downtown change, and in order for it to change, “I decided I needed to do something about it.”
Other meetings of various groups and potential stakeholders in the MainStreet project will be announced in the future, Kampfer said.