LOCAL NEWS

City Commission Anxious to Act on Downtown Master Plan in 2015

By Tony A. Archuleta

HERALD Reporter

After spending $70,000 on a downtown master plan and an additional $50,000 updating its comprehensive plan, the Truth or Consequences City Commission is anxious to do something –anything– to transition from planning to acting in 2015.

Following a recent, highly publicized setback regarding Spaceport America’s immediate prospects, the commission has come to the stark realization that the city itself will have to take control of its own economic destiny.

“A lot of this has to do with completion of the downtown plan and the MRA (Metropolitan Redevelopment Area designation) associated with it, and also knowing that things happen, and that we are going to take a proactive stance on who we want to become and how to present ourselves to the world,” Commissioner Kathy Clark said at a recent meeting.

During the Nov. 17 workshop preceding the regular commission meeting, the topic of discussion was, “Branding and Marketing Truth or Consequences.”

“Do we want people to walk downtown, for example, and know that we concentrated on getting our roads done, do we want to have bike paths, which were recommended, do we want to have recreation, do we want to make certain our seniors are taken care of?” Clark wondered aloud during the regular meeting.

The immediate response would be yes to all of the above, but the commission obviously has to take financial constraints into consideration.

“So you look at things like gross receipts taxes – what are they telling you?” Clark continued. “Is it coming from the retail, which is definitely where it comes from, because it’s definitely not coming from food (which is nontaxable due to a legislative mandate).”

With 2014 winding down and 2015 on the near horizon, Clark said the city is on the clock.

“I got the impression from the workshop that none of us can absolutely make a commitment today exactly what we want to call ourselves, but the dialogue is open now, and that was the intent.”

Said Commissioner Jeff Richter: “We can talk about it all day long, but we need to move on with the implementation of this deal. We’re through talking about it. We’ve broached the subject, so now we’ve got to come up with a plan – not in five weeks or six months, tomorrow, because it’s slipping away.”

Commissioner Steve Green also underscored the importance of the city establishing its own initiatives and acting on them.

“Too long has our community done nothing because we’ve been promised the sky and the hopes of everyone else coming in and saving us and, obviously, that doesn’t work,” he said. “It hasn’t worked and it will not work.”

Green said the downtown master plan and comprehensive plan both offer plenty of ideas and initiatives, but it will ultimately be up to city leaders to act on them.

“Who are we, what are we, who do we want to be, if anything?” Green said. “We can just be a sleepy little town in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert, but if we want to be something, what is the plan that is going to get us there?”

Green said the city doesn’t have the tourism-marketing budget of a Taos with its $450,000 budget, so any progress along those lines will come “incrementally.”

“We have to upgrade our infrastructure for the citizens who are living here right now, but tourism is a phenomenal economy when it’s done right,” he said. “That gets GRT, people have a great time, they go home, they are the messengers and they send other people out here, and that’s the way you expose this town and this city to potential residents and citizens who are going to move here – a second home as a retirement home, whatever it might be.

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