Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Five Mile Park to be rehabilitated


December 20, 2017

Steve Hansen

Attila Bality of the U.S. National Park Service makes a point Monday during discussion of Tuicumcari's Five Mile Park.

Tucumcari's Five Mile Park is the focus of an effort led by the U.S. National Parks Service to develop the rugged property for increased visits from both Quay County residents and tourists.

Attila Bality, an outdoor recreation planner for the National Parks Service, guided city and county leaders in setting up a framework for determining how Five Mile Park can meet community needs as defined by community members, then plan actions that need to be taken to ready the park for community and tourist use.

Bality's involvement in the process came about through an application for National Parks assistance that Patrick Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation, completed earlier this year.

Bality has since made several trips to Tucumcari to look at the park and introduce himself and the program to community members.

At Monday's meeting, Bality walked community leaders through a five-step framework of planning steps, and led them to set deadlines and assign responsibility for many of the steps.

Tucumcari City Manager Jared Langenegger and County Manager Richard Primrose represented local governments. Also attending were Vanderpool, Gail Saunders of the Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce, Gail Houser of Tucumcari Main Street and Noreen Hendrickson and Brenda Bishop, representing the Quay County Health Council.

Monday's discussion covered the steps of creating a planning team, establishing a vision and goals, identifying opportunities and constraints, developing design concepts and producing a plan.

Process steps also include opportunities for community groups to participate in forming a vision and goals, submitting more ideas, developing illustrations to help the community understand the plan, and gaining support from the final plan.

Bality drew from his extensive experience in helping communities like Grants and Cuba to illustrate points in the planning process.

Five Mile Park includes trails used by all-terrain vehicles, the city's new disc golf course, an unofficial shooting range.

Bality said community groups need to come up with other possibilities. Discussion produced possibilities, such as a drone-flying range, mountain-bike trails, and nature study areas.

Group members agreed that the park needs some rehabilitation work. The remains of the park's huge swimming pool, which was closed in 1977, and an adjoining bathhouse are in ruins that the group agreed must be disposed of.

There are other unused structures on the property that must also be dealt with, all agreed.

By Jan. 15, the group hopes to arrange for public participation opportunities, By Aug. 31, the group hopes to complete the plan illustration process.

The group also put together a master list of businesses, community organizations and churches that might help in determining uses for the park and assembling the plan.

"We try to be neutral facilitators," Bality said of National Park Service involvement in the process.

The Five Mile Park project was chosen, he said, because of its association with health goals, especially those related to physical fitness, and its goals that align with National Park Service ideals.

Bality said the National Park Service's participation is measured in "sweat equity," not dollars.

"We are partners in the process, but local commission and councils must be the most active participants," he said.


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