By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
City Manager Doug Powers presented a plan to city commissioners Thursday to dispose of the Sands Dorsey ruin downtown and consolidate fire and emergency medical service facilities on the site.
Powers offered details at a City Commission workshop before the regular commission meeting.
Powers and city staff are exploring sources of federal and state grant funding to finance such a project, but city commissioners have not committed themselves on the idea.
On a walking tour Friday, Powers demonstrated that fire department facilities and vehicles are spread out in three buildings downtown, two of which are at least 50 years old, and the third, built in 1984, accommodates on-duty emergency medical staff but has inadequate room for other functions.
One building two doors east of City Hall houses the offices of the fire chief and central dispatch, the communication center for Quay County area public safety agencies.
Another building, the old city hall next door to the current city offices, houses two ambulances and the fire department’s mass casualty truck.
Fire Station No. 1, a block north of City Hall, houses the city’s ladder truck, a couple of pumper engines, a mobile command center and two other ambulances, as well as the dormitory for on-duty emergency medical services personnel.
Fire Chief Larry Rigdon said that fire facilities are in sore need of updating and should be consolidated under one roof as much as possible.
Powers said he is looking at grant sources that include Community Development Block Grant funding, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Community Development grant money and some state sources, including the state’s fire fund that finances most fire equipment purchasing in the state.
Commissioners expressed more enthusiasm for hearing about more options than for any particular idea, however.
“We should be pursuing every possible avenue we can” to dispose of the building, Commissioner Robert Lumpkin said.
Public safety or veterans facilities, he said, are popular among government granting agencies these days, so that might be a productive direction to pursue, Lumpkin said.
“We need to make sure the citizens of Tucumcari don’t pay for something that wasn’t their fault,” Lumpkin said. The Sands Dorsey building was gutted by fires in 2006 and 2012.
Mayor Amiel Curnutt said the fire department facility is “just an idea,” among many that should be considered, but the Sands Dorsey ruin should be disposed of “any way we can do it.”
Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue said, “There are just too many good ideas out there right now, and we’re still waiting for something to come to fruition.”
Commissioner Ernie Dominguez said he is reserving judgment on this latest idea, but said Powers and Pat Vanderpool, director of the Greater Economic Development Council, should be working together on this idea and others.
Vanderpool has been pursuing a solution that would involve private developers who could use grant money both to tear down the existing structure and build a commercial facility of some kind in its place.
Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said he heard Powers’ idea on Thursday, but had not given the matter much thought since then.
Mark Lake, director of Tucumcari MainStreet, which coordinates downtown revitalization projects like renovation of the Tucumcari Train Depot, said Powers’ idea is “definitely worth thinking about.”
Powers said he was very encouraged that CDBG funds are available for projects up to $500,000, the highest estimate of the cost to dispose of Sands Dorsey. CDBG decisions seem to favor projects that benefit low- to moderate-income earners, aid in the prevention of blight and slum and to alleviate “existing conditions that pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community.”