Organizers present plan for Five Mile Park
March 31, 2021
Organizers of efforts to revitalize Tucumcari’s Five Mile Park introduced a plan that has been more than three years in the making Thursday to the City Commission in a public work session before the regular commission meeting later that evening.
The organizers did not ask for money. But Daniel Zamora, the next Quay County manager and organizer of disc golf activities at Five Mile Park since 2017, asked the commission to give the plan official recognition that would qualify the plan for grants from from various sources.
The plan would accommodate activities as diverse as disc golf, hiking trails and shooting sports on the park’s 240 acres of mostly undeveloped land.
The plan also includes public event space centered around the park’s long-abandoned swimming pool, once one of the largest public pools in the southwestern U.S., and plans to recognize the pool area’s historic value.
Five Mile Park already hosts the Robert Lumpkin Disc Golf Course, named for former Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lumpkin, who was instrumental in establishing the 18-hole course, participating in the planning, construction and land-clearing that made the course a reality.
The organizers have worked with the National Park Service, landscape architects at the University of New Mexico and the UNM Health Science Research Center to develop the comprehensive plan.
Along with recreational and health benefits, a revitalized Five Mile Park would have economic development benefits, Patrick Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation, told the commission.
In 2019, he noted, the New Mexico Legislature created the Outdoor Recreation Division of the New Mexico Economic Development Department.
The variety of outdoor recreational opportunities in the Five Mile Park plan would attract out-of-town tourists and active residents, Vanderpool said.
Outdoor recreation brings $1.2 billion a year to the state’s economy and supports 33,500 New Mexico jobs, Vanderpool noted, and state residents spend $4.8 billion annually on outdoor recreation.
Vanderpool also noted community involvement in the planning process.
More than 150 residents have participated in focus groups and other planning sessions.
“This plan was not created in a vacuum,” he said..
Brenda Bishop, director of the Quay County Health Council, noted participation in planning from the Viva Connects program of the UNM Health Science Research organization. Viva Connects helps develop walking and hiking trails in New Mexico cities and towns.
The program has contributed $3,000 to trails at Five Mile Park, she said, and health council representatives meet monthly with Viva Connects officials.
Five Mile Park has provided outdoor exercise opportunities for residents that have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“Five Mile Park is a place to go to get away from people,” she said.
Commissioners seemed to be agreeable to drafting a resolution adopting the plan, as Zamora requested.
In the regular commission meeting, commissioners turned down participating in a mental health feasibility study that would have helped to determine a need for a possible psychiatric hospital in Clovis.
The city would have been asked to put of 6%, or $3,000, to participate in the study.
City Manager Mark Martinez said the idea came about because of increased risk of mental and emotional disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cities of Clovis and Portales and county governments in Curry, Roosevelt and DeBaca counties also have been asked to participate.
In discussion, Tucumcari commissioners seemed unanimous in opposing the idea, especially because the hospital would be in Clovis, not Tucumcari.
District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya, a mental health counselor, said a psychiatric hospital would not benefit Tucumcari because the city does not have a psychiatrist or other medical doctor capable of committing persons to a such a hospital.
Without professionals qualified to commit individuals, he said, the hospital would “do no good for Tucumcari.”
Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield said the hospital in Clovis would not benefit Tucumcari and wondered why a hospital could not be in the city.
District 5 Commissioner Todd Duplantis said the city already has information on mental health issues.
“We know how many suicides we have and how many drug users we have,” he said.
Litchfield asked for a motion to participate in the study, and no one proposed one. She declared the motion dead.
The commission also delayed decisions on donating land to the Tucumcari Municipal School District for baseball and softball diamonds and on an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development organization for management of the Chaparral Apartments, which are rent-subsidized.
The land donation agreement was delayed to settle surveying differences in the amount of land being donated. The apartment management agreement was delayed to give the commission more time to consider details of the contract.
The commission set a special meeting at 5 p.m. March 31 at City Hall to discuss the agreement and make a decision.
Martinez also recognized employees of the quarter for the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Robert Lopez, a park department employee, received the last quarter of 2020 award.
Martinez said Lopez never turns down weekend work and always is working hard at his duties in Tucumcari Memorial Park cemetery.
The first quarter of 2021's top employee is Walter Henson, who works in the city’s wastewater department.
Martinez said Henson has learned new skills and has become versatile.
“He catches on quickly and is a great employee,” Martinez said.