Cheese plant access road stalled

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Roosevelt County officials say efforts to buy private property for the use of a proposed access road leading to the Southwest Cheese plant have been slow moving.

The proposed 2-mile extension of Curry County Road K to Highway 70 would cut into irrigation circles, according to contract engineer Fred Curnutt of Engineers Inc. in Tucumcari.

Officials are attempting to contact one farmer in an effort to purchase portions of their land, but the cost has yet to be estimated.

“I talked to the owners before Christmas and they said ‘yeah’ they would sell it,” but communication with one of them has been stalled because he lives in Arizona and is hard to contact, said Kim Huffman, director for the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce.

“The big deal is an agreement hasn’t been reached with the property owners yet. (But) this isn’t a surprise, it isn’t a roadblock, it’s not a a chink in the armor … it’s just part of the cost of building the road — we’ve got to get the land,” he said.

Huffman said the owners could decline to sell the land, but that is unlikely.

An estimated 85 vehicles and 72 milk trucks would travel the road per day.

The cost of the cheese plant road is projected to be $855,000, but the number does not include the cost of acquisition of property to each side of the road.

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega and Alva Carter, chairman of the Southwest Dairy Farmers of America council, said the road would not only shorten the driving distance for milk truckers traveling from the south, but that it could create economic development on both sides of the road in Roosevelt County.

“The biggest concern right now is the acquisition of the property,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “We need to have a number locked in on how much it’s going to cost us. I don’t feel comfortable approaching the governor (for state funding) unless I have this information.”