Serving the High Plains

City pool may be reopened in 2023

Tucumcari’s city manager voiced confidence the city would have enough funds available so a contractor could repair its swimming pool and reopen it by summer 2023.

City Manager Mark Martinez also explained a possible long-term plan where a grant could be available to help build a multigenerational pool within five to 10 years.

During a city commission work session Thursday, Martinez said one pool company contacted by the city’s parks and recreation supervisor said it would cost $150,000 to $200,000 to replaster Tucumcari City Pool, which has been closed since 2019 initially because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then a severe leak.

Martinez said he would contact other pool contractors in Albuquerque and Lubbock and Amarillo in Texas for more repair quotes, but they wouldn’t be available for one to two months.

Martinez said the city’s overall projected revenue in fiscal year 2022 is higher than originally forecast. At the end of the third quarter, the city had received more than 90% of its projected revenue with three months to go.

Between that and extra gross-receipts taxes from recreational marijuana sales and cash reserves, Martinez said he was confident there would be enough money available for a “permanent” fix for the pool so it could reopen next year.

Martinez also said Tucumcari Senior Center program director Clara Rey told him large grants could be available to help build a new senior center that could include an Olympic-size swimming pool. Pools are desirable for many senior citizens for exercise and physical therapy reasons. He said such a pool also could be used by the public and Mesalands Community College students.

He cautioned, however, that building a new pool was five to 10 years away. That would include two to three years for a bond issue, plus one to two years for construction.

Commissioners Mike Cherry and Christopher Arias asked Martinez to gather information on the various options for the pool, including how much bonding capacity the city might have.

Tucumcari City Pool last was renovated in 2006, and the city still owes $60,000 from those repairs. It was built in 1976 at the corner of South Fifth Street and West Hines Avenue after the Metropolitan Park Bathhouse and Pool at Five Mile Park closed. The previous facility, once the largest in the Southwest, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940.

Action items

• Commissioners approved a one-year, $30,000 contract for Patrick Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., that includes $500 a month for his office at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

Vanderpool during a work session Thursday had requested a four-year deal of $58,000 annually, plus $500 a month for the office.

Though Arias praised Vanderpool for the progress he made in the past year, he balked at the longer-term contract. Arias said wanted a one-year deal “so we can reassess every year” Vanderpool’s performance.

In his motion, he wanted Vanderpool to give quarterly reports on the EDC’s activities — a stipulation that Martinez said already existed in the contract.

• Commissioners approved a construction agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to provide a $1.3 million grant to build a new fueling station at Tucumcari Municipal Airport. The grant requires no match from the city.

Project manager Ralph Lopez said the current fueling island was on the “verge of being red-tagged.” He said the new fuel farm would make it virtually self-service for airplane pilots.

• Commissioners approved two state-mandated proposals, both from Parkhill engineers, for environmental monitoring and reporting services for the old and new landfill. The costs are $24,552.75 and $38,767.50. Martinez said some contaminant readings in monitoring wells are high but within compliance.

• The commission’s agenda included an item to approve a new contract with Martinez as interim city manager until a permanent city manager is hired, but no action was taken. The city is taking applications for a city manager through June 24. Martinez recently submitted a resignation letter that stated he would exercise his option to return to his assistant city manager duties.

During the work session Thursday, Martinez requested a 10% raise as interim city manager. He is paid $81,600 a year.

“I’ve proved myself what I’m worth,” he said.

Arias indicated he’d be receptive to a new contract if Martinez “cleaned house” on a few issues in the city. Cherry agreed a contract was needed, but “we do need somebody to help Mark” such as an assistant city manager.

Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Moya said he heard some constituent dissatisfaction with Martinez and that “he fought us repeatedly” on bringing in an assistant — a contention Martinez disputed.

Several commissioners also voiced a desire to revamp the city’s language concerning exempt workers and department heads. The city years ago repealed language that made employees at-will but didn’t add clarifying language.

Reports, comments

• During his city manager’s report, Martinez said he and Quay County manager Daniel Zamora had a productive meeting with a New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration official. He said the official expressed openness for requests of grant money that required no match, including for a new hospital for the county and infrastructure improvements for the city, such as the pool or Tucumcari Recreation Center.

• Martinez said a rabies clinic would be held June 4 at the city warehouse at 302 W. Center St.

• During commissioner comments, Moya urged a longer work session to include discussion on street repairs. He urged city staff to work with state Sen. Pete Campos on acquiring grants for such endeavors.

• Moya again urged action on a dilapidated building at Second and Main streets. The owner has three months to abate the nuisance.

• After Moya asked about the status of the city ambulance fleet, Martinez said all four are operational, with one on standby. Martinez, however, said he was not optimistic he could get new grant money to buy another ambulance.

• Cherry asked about the last time a strategic plan or road audit had been performed, and Martinez replied it had been years. Cherry asked street repairs to be added to June budget talks, citing the bad condition of a street in front of Dunn Funeral Home.

Martinez pointed out the city’s street department was down to one employee.

“We are spread thin,” he said.

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