Commission will look at paving lot at events center at later date

File photo A motion to pave an overflow parking area at the Special Events Center got no support from commissioners, who said it is costly and premature.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A motion to pave an overflow parking area at the Special Events Center got no support from commissioners, who said it is costly and premature.

Commissioner Frank Blackburn proposed the county pave a caliche lot at the facility at Tuesday’s Curry County Commission meeting. He said the parking area has a serious drainage problem and is difficult to traverse.

“It’s just nothing but swamp out there,” he said, describing an unpleasant experience he had wading through mud to get to the facility while attending a bull riding event this month.

Several commissioners said Blackburn’s suggestion had merit but noted the issue is already being evaluated by the events center amenities committee.

“I agree wholeheartedly that it needs to be done, but I’m a little worried about where our finances are right now,” commission Chairman Bobby Sandoval said.

Commissioner Caleb Chandler said it will probably be May or June before the committee is ready to make a recommendation.

Cost estimates for paving the overflow lot range between $800,000 and $1 million, Chandler said.

The events center currently has more than 300 paved parking spaces, with the caliche lot serving as overflow parking for larger crowds.

Commissioners also approved amendments to three road projects, reflecting reduced funding from the state.

The state recently notified the county it was cutting local road project appropriations by $100,000. The money was going to be used to put a hard surface on portions of Curry Roads K and 13.

Plans were to chipseal Curry Road K from Llano Estacado Boulevard to Curry Road 14 and Curry Road 13 (Wilhite Road), from K east to state road 209, but because of the cutbacks, officials have said work on Curry Road 13 will have to wait.

It’s not the first time funds to pave CR 13 have been cut, county resident Jerry Hailey told commissioners.

In 1995 a paving project for the western portion of Wilhite was canceled by the state, Hailey said.

“Fifteen years ago they used the same wording,” Hailey said, telling commissioners that residents from 22 homes depend on CR 13 to get to paved routes.

Hailey said the route is fraught with mud, snow drifts and even in dry conditions has a washboard surface that grading can’t seem to correct.

Blackburn told Hailey he remembers when the state canceled the paving project in 1995 and assured him, “I think it will be funded shortly.”

Sandoval told Hailey the commission is sensitive to the plight of residents in his neighborhood, but said times are tough when it comes to state money.