Serving the High Plains

Landfill cell tops city's wish list

The Tucumcari City Commission on Thursday submitted to the state an Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan for fiscal years 2024 through 2028 with extensive revisions, including constructing a new cell at the landfill as its top priority.

Interim city manager Mark Martinez, noting the current cell at the landfill has less than a year left in its lifespan, recommended a new cell be No. 1 on the city’s wish list. The estimated cost of the cell is $2.1 million.

The ICIP list not only can make projects eligible for annual capital outlay funds from the New Mexico Legislature but also for state and federal grants.

Other projects that city commissioners or officials added to the list, along with estimated costs if available, were:

• Splash pad near the city pool, $85,000 to $125,000;

• Princess Theatre renovations, $2 million;

• Great Blocks Phase II in downtown;

• Wayfinding signage, $20,000 to $60,000;

• Tucumcari Lake wildlife sanctuary;

• Tucumcari Historical Museum improvements;

• Tucumcari Railroad Museum improvements, $100,000;

• New Mexico Route 66 Museum improvements;

• Repair or replace city fire engine, $100,000;

• New city ambulance, $300,000;

• New fire apparatus, $500,000;

• Fire hydrant improvements.

During public comments, resident Daniel Evans said insurance rates for property owners are too high and that the city needs to make it a priority to improve its fire-insurance rating.

“It’s a major, major issue,” Evans said.

The city’s fire insurance rating was downgraded about a year ago. Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Moya said that primarily was due to inoperable fire hydrants across the city. However, Martinez pointed out the rating downgrade was due to several factors, including fire department staffing, response times and training. He also said the city’s fire hydrants are spaced only about 300 feet apart when fire insurance assessors require a minimum of 1,000 feet of spacing.

Martinez said later in the meeting said he is about to apply for a regional recreation grant that would cover the $219,000 cost of repairing and replastering the city pool, which has been closed since 2019 because of COVID-19 and, later, a leak. He said building a new pool would cost several million dollars.

Other items and their projected costs already on the ICIP were:

• East Route 66 infrastructure improvements, $3.78 million;

• Repair and upgrade water and wastewater systems, $3.58 million;

• Russell’s Addition infrastructure improvements, $825,000;

• Tucumcari City Pool renovations, $218,000;

• Water, streets and sewer improvements, $2.75 million;

• City streets improvements, $5.86 million;

• Lift station improvements, $1.72 million;

• Street equipment, $286,000;

• Planning grants for asset management, $5,000;

• Planning grants for comprehensive plan, $5,000;

• Repair and upgrade sewer system, $4.11 million;

• Wastewater and water communication system, $657,800;

• Repair and upgrade water system, $2.5 million;

• Water well replacement and repair, $3.79 million;

• MainStreet infrastructure improvements, $650,000;

• Citywide beautification effort, $94,250;

• Water tank rehabilitation or replacement, $8.88 million;

• Planning grant for Unified Development Code update, $55,000;

• Recreation center improvements, $825,370;

• Airport Taxiway A rehabilitation, $279,000;

• Airport apron rehabilitation, $696,800;

• Airport fuel farm, $1 million;

• Library improvements, $806,000;

• 11th Street improvements project, $1.79 million;

• Animal control facility and remodeling, $494,000;

• Wastewater PER, $60,000.

In all, the list over five fiscal years totals over $50 million worth of projects.

Other action

• Commissioners approved two contracts with the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District for the Tucumcari Senior Center. One was $26,418 to supplement the cost of using U.S.-grown food for meals; the other was $249,124.66 to operate the senior center.

• Commissioners approved a beer-and-wine liquor license for La Cita Restaurant after hearing no objections during a required public hearing. Martinez noted the nearby Trinity Baptist Church recently went defunct and that no objections would come from that congregation.

• Commissioners approved a three-year contract with Paula Chacon as the new city manager. (See other story in this edition.)

• Commissioners approved a real-estate donation to Tucumcari Public Schools for its ballpark redevelopment project. (See other story in this edition.)


• During public comments, Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp. director Patrick Vanderpool said the state Environment Department would assess the closed Tucumcari Truck Terminal site on the city’s west side that week so it could be eligible for federal cleanup funds.

Vanderpool said Socorro also is sharing information on its efforts to expand a community kitchen – an idea that Tucumcari may pursue. He also said an area faith-based job-training program is interested in using the defunct Trinity Baptist Church building on South First Street near Tucumcari Boulevard.

• Moya, who previously complained about rising costs with the city’s ambulance service, surmised one reason was it was answering medical calls in San Jon and to the Texas border. Martinez said San Jon’s ambulance lacked volunteers to fully staff its service, though he doubted that could account for all of the city’s higher costs. Martinez said he was investigating the cost issue.

Moya said he received more complaints about Tucumcari Memorial Park cemetery and that several residents expressed a willingness to serve on the cemetery board. The board had been disbanded due to a lack of volunteers, but Clerk Angelica Gray said she would advertise for openings for the board.

• Commissioner Paul Villanueva urged adding certified traffic-control officers for road-construction projects. He also recommended replacing several faded stop signs at intersections.