Serving the High Plains

Proposed Mesalands 10-year plan presented

Architects presented a proposed 10-year master plan for Mesalands Community College that includes a new focus on 11th Street as its entrance, with new residence halls, a mobile meat-processing plant and a 9-acre solar farm.

The college’s board of trustees during its Sept. 21 meeting heard the presentation from Melissa Walker and Bryan Griggs, architects at the Parkhill, Smith and Cooper architectural firm in Amarillo.

Walker said the plan recommends renaming 11th Street as Campus Drive and making it a main artery at the college, with signs on both sides of Route 66 pointing to the campus. She said such a change would give “more of a campus feel” for Mesalands.

Walker said the mobile meat-processing plant, which would be more economical to set up than a permanent structure, would be placed on the northwest side of campus. When asked about livestock odors, Griggs said the plant would be much smaller than a typical commercial butchering facility.

The 9-acre solar farm would be south of the college’s wind turbine.

A two-story residence hall would be built on vacant land owned and used by Tucumcari Public Schools as the site for the annual Homecoming bonfire. Mesalands has been in talks with the district to deed over the land to the college to build those halls. Walker said the residence halls can be built in phases, with each phase containing 48 beds. She said the site can enlarged up to 144 beds.

The plan also states the college’s nursing program would be relocated inside the former National Guard armory building, now being used as a student center, fitness center and cafeteria, and it would continue to offer those services.

Board Chairman Jim Streetman seemed amenable to the proposed master plan, suggesting only to move the mobile meat-processing plant closer to 14th Street to allow better access for big trucks.

Streetman said he liked the 11th Street artery idea, noting the college’s leaders 25 years ago originally envisioned the west side of Building A as the main entrance to the campus.

Walker said her firm would conduct a utility and cost analyses of the final plan and present it to the board for final approval at its Oct. 19 meeting. Parkhill officials also will meet with Mesalands’ executive staff to go over the revised proposal in early October on what would be planned for the next two to four years.

Mesalands President Gregory Busch said the college may act quickly on renovations to Building A, noting the college has $1.2 million set aside for that part of the project.

Board member Jimmy Sandoval also advocated removing “community” from the college’s name. Though it wasn’t a part of Parkhill’s formal proposal, Griggs agreed, saying such a change would more accurately reflect the college’s wide scope.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

Mesalands President Gregory Busch also agreed, saying Mesalands has “globalized” offerings.

Streetman, while not voicing opposition, cautioned such a name change would require months of planning, including changing merchandise and legal filings.

Busch’s predecessor, John Groesbeck, also advocated a name change to Mesalands College.