Published: 1:00 pm, Wed. Jun. 15th, 2016Updated: 2:26 pm
Many items on the agenda at Tuesday’s city council meeting turned out to be quite controversial, including a request for city facilities, the 2016 Uniform Traffic Ordinance (UTO), a zone change ordinance, and permission to post city positions internally and externally.
Paul Lopez, a representative of SuperPride Athletics, requested the use of the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Area from 8:45-9:45 a.m. June 16, 17, 20, 22 and 24, and July 1, 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28 for a “2016 Speed Camp.”
The city currently does not have any rules or guidelines in place to allow or charge businesses to use city property – only nonprofits.
“If we permit this, it is allowing an individual that is unknown in this community to deal with our children, and it’s somewhat accepting this activity,” said Mayor Phil Burch. “That’s a concern that I think we should have. And the other thing is, in our own rec center, when the employees deal with our children, they’ve gone through a background check and they have gone through a drug screening before they’re hired to deal with our children.”
No motion was passed; therefore, Lopez was not granted permission to use the space.
The consideration of the 2016 UTO that was postponed from the May 10 and 26 council meetings prompted a lengthy discussion.
An added amendment to the UTO would be a halfway step for off-road vehicles on the streets of Artesia. The amendment would not allow off-road vehicles to operate on city streets at this time but would leave\ only one step – the passage of an ordinance – between allowing and disallowing off-road vehicles to operate. This concerned the councilors, who were not in favor of having off-road vehicles on the streets of Artesia.
The council ultimately voted to approve the UTO.
Residents from South 19th Street attended with a petition in hand to protest a zone change of 202 S. 19th St. from an “R1-B” Single Family District to a “C” Business District.
The residents said they would be okay with the zone change as long as two conditions were followed, the first being that whatever business was built on the property have a fence around it so they couldn’t see it, and the second being that the street be turned into a cul-de-sac.
The residents voiced their current concerns regarding their street, which included speeding traffic.
“We don’t even know what the car looks like or even what color it is when it flies through our neighborhood,” said one attendee.
According to Byron Landfair, infrastructure director, the street doesn’t meet the requirements of being turned into a cul-de-sac. Speed bumps were also off the table, as J.D. Hummingbird, fire chief, strongly dislikes them due to the problems they can cause fire trucks.
The decision was tabled to the July 12 council meeting so the owner of the property would have a chance to talk to residents and address their concerns.
With the city’s budget having been slashed significantly, the councilors have agreed to transparently discuss posting job openings each time they come up.
This time, mechanic, parks foreman, and fire division chief positions were voted to be posted internally and apprentice mechanic, streets/parks equipment operator, and ambulance billing clerk positions were voted to be posted internally and externally.
During the period for hearing visitors, Artesia resident David Bamford addressed his concerns with the new sidewalk along Eagle Draw near Seventh Street.
“I’m a runner; I’ve been running for more than 40 years. I just really appreciate what you’ve done with the parks and Eagle Draw. It’s really great, but in my opinion, you’re doing too good of a job. Between Roselawn and Seventh Street, a sidewalk has been put in, which is lovely for walkers and people with strollers,” said Bamford. “I just want to tell you that you can’t run on sidewalk; if you do, you won’t be running for very long.”
Bamford was told by Landfair that the sidewalk is only being put in place in that certain area due to decaying asphalt.
In other business, Gavino Saiz was hired as a Recreation Specialist I at a rate of pay of $2,305 per month, and the 2016 City Council Retreat was scheduled for July 29-31 at Hotel Artesia rather than the retreat’s traditional Cloudcroft site.