ActivePaper Archive Quality of life projects to be discussed by county leaders - Hobbs News Sun, 2013-10-16

Quality of life projects to be discussed by county leaders

• Indoor recreation facility among major projects to be eyed in joint-government meeting

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Cobb

History will be made Thursday, when the Lea County Commission, Hobbs City Commission, New Mexico Junior College Board and Hobbs Municipal Schools Board meet in a joint session.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. in Bob Moran Hall on the campus of NMJC.

The agenda for the four groups lists one item

— a quality of life initiative.

Hobbs mayor Sam Cobb said the plan came together during a series of meetings over the past year or so.

“The question was ... how do we collaborate and leverage our expertise on some of these quality of life projects?” he said Tuesday.

NMJC president Steve McCleery said the collaboration between the four governing groups could be unprecedented.

“At least in my tenure as president, I don’t remember where (the four governments) have been in a room together as a called board (or) commission,” he said.

The group of area officials expected at the meeting includes Cobb, Hobbs city commissioners Jonathan Sena and John Boyd, Hobbs city attorney Mike Stone, city finance director Toby Spears and city manager J.J. Murphy; Hobbs schools superintendent TJ Parks, Lea County manager Michael Gallagher, Lea County Commission chairman Gregg Fulfer, county commissioner Ron Black, county finance director Sherri Bunch, McCleery, NMJC vice president for finance Dan Hardin and NMJC vice president for training and outreach Robert Rhodes.

Cobb said as the group began meeting, the need for a formal plan became apparent.

Because the group was not comprised of a quorum of any one governing body and because it was not an official group, the members approached the J. F Maddox Foundation to fund a Lea County Recreational Master Plan.

Albuquerque-based Dekker Perich Sabatini conducted the study, the results of which will be introduced during Thursday’s meeting.

The plan includes a handful of projects that are currently under way — an indoor equestrian facility, renovations to Ocotillo Park Golf Course, park improvements in Eunice, Lovington, Tatum, Jal and Hobbs; improvements to the Lea County Event Center and a new Boys and Girls Club building.

A multi-generational indoor recreation facility, which Cobb called “the elephant in the room,” is also on the list.

“This one, we need to have some public conversation on,” he said.

Questions remain about the size of the indoor recreation facility and what amenities it will provide.

Additional projects listed in the plan include an indoor aquatic center and public transportation to connect all Lea County communities.

Cobb said quality of life projects in Lea County enable Hobbs to draw large events.

“When you start putting all the assets together ... I think we can compete with Albuquerque and Las Cruces for holding (events),” he said.

One missing element from the presentation are price tags.

Cobb said Dekker Perich Sabatini did not provide cost estimates, since most of the projects will be addressed on an individual basis.

Lea County and NMJC have already partnered to build the $5 million indoor equestrian center, although ground has not been broken on the project. Cobb said all of the projects listed in the plan will be a partnership between two or more entities.

“This model could be replicated,” he said.

Although Eunice, Jal, Lovington and Tatum will likely receive splash pads out of the countywide plan, Cobb said the partnerships Hobbs is displaying with the county and NMJC could be used as a template for bigger projects in other communities.

“I hope we could have the leadership going forward, and they could be visionary enough, that we could do this in Jal, we could do this in Lovington, we could do this in Tatum,” he said. McCleery said the opportunity for multiple governments to work together “takes away needless duplication of all of us doing our own individual things.”

“We could do something special,” he said.

The four governing groups are scheduled to vote to approve the quality of life initiative during Thursday’s meeting.

Beth Hahn can be reached at 391-5436 or reporter3@hobbsnews.com.

Quality of life projects

• Indoor recreation facility

• Indoor aquatic center

• Indoor equestrian facility

• Renovations to Ocotillo Park Golf Course

• Park improvements in Eunice, Lovington, Tatum, Jal and Hobbs

• Improvements to the Lea County Event Center

• A new Boys and Girls Club building

• Public transportation to connect all Lea County communities