Citizens’ group challenges city parks plan

Kevin Wilson

For the third consecutive meeting, a group of citizens frustrated with plans to repurpose the long-unused Hillcrest Park Pool asked the Clovis City Commission to stop action.

The commission offered a compromise to vote on the matter, but noted their concerns with such an action and the benefits a park restructuring is already bringing.

Clovis native Adrian Chavez, who now lives in Albuquerque, spoke again on behalf on a citizens action group against the portion of the city’s parks and recreation plan that will convert the pool into a splash pad.

Chavez said he and his group have received inaccurate information regarding the pool and asked for a 60-day delay on any work.

“We don’t feel the city has been forthright,” Chavez said. He noted that Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell had told him the pool was built in 1953, but other documentation dates the pool back to 1937.

“We’re not going away,” Chavez said, “and we would really like you guys to reconsider what you’re doing.”

In all three meetings, commissioners and Mayor Gayla Brumfield have said the city has already made financial commitments to the decisions, and those decisions were made after numerous public meetings.

Commissioner Randy Crowder said whether or not the commission agrees with the group, it can’t vote such a measure up or down because it’s never been on the agenda.

“What this is doing is gobbling up time, to no avail,” Crowder said. He offered to put an item on the group’s behalf on the Dec. 1 agenda, and Chavez accepted.

Margaret Fritz of Clovis asked the commission members if they knew the origin of Hillcrest Park’s name. No commissioner knew, and Brumfield could only guess it was related to the topography.

Fritz said the park was named in 1935 during the inaugural Pioneer Days from 115 suggestions, and the commissioners needed to be better informed before they took actions that affected the park.

Commissioner Fred Van Soelen disagreed.

“We are informed,” Van Soelen said. “We’ve been in meeting after meeting that you were not at.”

He said meetings and town halls have been held for more than a year, with many opportunities for public comment and there have been numerous stories in the newspaper. Fritz said she didn’t subscribe to the newspaper and wasn’t aware of those meetings.

Van Soelen responded that he couldn’t help her if she chose not to inform herself.

Following the public comment period, the commission approved a handful of items, most notably an introduction of an ordinance to spend a potential $3 million in economic development dollars to bring Beauty Health and Science Innovations, Inc. to the city’s industrial park.

Chase gentry said the cosmetic supply manufacturer could bring 350 jobs over a five-year period, and 120 in its first year. It should be operational sometime in the first three months of 2012.

“We feel like this is going to be a very good project to diversify our economic base,” Gentry said.

The city will commit $2 million in economic development up front, and an additional $1 million if BHSI employs 300 for at least 12 months.

Brumfield said when she had discussions with BHSI representatives, they told her they liked the city for its commitment to refurbishing Hotel Clovis and quality of life projects including the Hillcrest Park renovation.

“It does take all of this together,” Brumfield said, “to create an environment for economic development.”

The ordinance can be approved during the commission’s Dec. 1 meeting.