Mayor Michael Morones presents the Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation to Silver Regional Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) Executive Director Catherine Olmstead, as Advocacy and Crisis Coordinator Stephanie Gonzales looks on.
Article and Photo by Charlie McKee
In a lengthy Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Apr. 8, Mayor Michael Morones kicked off the meeting with three proclamations, stating "I don't take these proclamations lightly. They set a tone for our community." The proclamations declared April 2014 as:
• "Child Abuse Prevention Month in Silver City" – asking everyone to display a blue ribbon in recognition of child abuse prevention
• "Sexual Assault Awareness Month"
• "Fair Housing Month"
During the Public Input and Council Comments portions of the meeting, the following events were highlighted for Silver City residents:
• Southwest Chicano Music Association
- Cinco de Mayo Fajita Cooking Contest
- Labor Day Chicano Music Festival
- Tamal y Mas Fiesta
• Office of Sustainability
- April 19 Earth Day Celebration at Gough Park - 10 am to 2 pm
- April 19 Electronics Recycling Program
• Comcast Cares Day – April 26, 9 am to 3 pm
Comcast supports the MRAC Youth Mural Project at the Silver City Recreation Center. Citizens of all ages are invited to help paint and make tiles for the new mural.
• Senior Olympics Opening Ceremony at Fox Field – April 12, 9 am
• Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS)
"Vagina Monologues" performances to benefit SASS on April 11 and 12 at 7 pm and on April 13 at 2 pm at the WNMU Global Resource Center
• WILL and Southwest Chapter of the Green Chamber of Commerce
"Civic Tourism" Talk and Workshop – April 11, 12 pm at the WNMU Global Resource Center
In its continuing dual-pronged effort to educate the new Mayor and Council on the Town's departments and functions and to prepare for the upcoming budget process, the Town of Silver City's staff presented the Public Works and Parks Department report. Director Peter Peña outlined the extensive responsibilities of the short-staffed department, while Town Manager and Finance Director Alex Brown explained the various funding sources for the department's major projects and functions.
Peña detailed the responsibilities of the Public Works and Parks Department in the following areas: Memory Lane Cemetery, City Shop, Parks, Recreation Center, Sanitation, Streets, Swimming Pool, and the Administration Department. Brown explained that the Department is primarily funded by the General Fund – specifically the gross receipts tax (GRT) – for personnel, by the gas tax for the Streets projects, and by residents and commercial billing for Sanitation. Brown's goal in the upcoming budget cycle is to mitigate the continually decreasing income stream to the department by diversifying its sources of funding. Both the GRT and the gas tax revenue sources have been shrinking while the work load has been increasing for the Department. Brown intends to propose shifting away from GRT and gas tax and toward property tax and bond income as revenue sources for the department in the coming fiscal years. Brown stated that the Town's residents are most vocal about improving the condition of the roads in Silver City, second only to safety from the Police and Fire Departments; therefore, the Streets Division is a high priority in the budget process. In addition, Brown explained that the Division must be "shovel ready" with designs in place for road improvement projects in order to succeed in obtaining state and federal grant funding.
After Staff Reports, the Public Hearing regarding a new manufactured home park commanded the lion's share of the nearly three-hour-long Council meeting. The Council approved #SD 14-01, a request for a Preliminary Plat Approval to allow a new manufactured home park to be created at 2180 32nd Street Bypass at Pinos Altos Road, after hearing testimony by City Planner Jaime Embick, the applicant Duane Rigg, and Weber Engineering's Pamela Weber. Embick explained to the Council the implication of the term "park" being used for this development, as opposed to "subdivision." The term "park" indicates that the manufactured homes will be owned by the developer and will be rented to their occupants. In a "subdivision," the manufactured homes are individually owned by their occupants.
Councilors Cynthia Bettison and Lynda Aiman-Smith posed numerous questions to the applicant and his representative regarding the infrastructure of the proposed park with respect to its integration with and impact on the Town's utilities; its effect on the neighborhood and traffic flow; its safety for the proposed residents; and the condition and maintainability of the proposed manufactured homes. Weber responded that the goal of the developer is to provide "safe affordable housing to working families" and that it is designed to be "a neighborhood in and of itself." She testified that the development exceeds the requirements for open space, that it provides adequate parking and lighting for residents, and that its calculated peak usage of water and its traffic flows will have minimal impact on the existing infrastructure. Weber stated that the owners were investing substantial funds in the design and infrastructure of the development and that it was therefore in their best interest to install good quality manufactured homes that would last for a long time. Riggs informed the Council that he and his wife had been in business in Silver City for 26 years and that they were investing "their life's savings" in the development.
Town Manager Brown and Director of Community Development Peter Russell also testified that, while the Town has no jurisdiction to control rental property conditions, the new development's manufactured homes must meet the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Seal construction standard for manufactured homes in order to be installed, and the Town will not issue a "Move-in Permit" for any of the homes until the utilities infrastructure requirements have been completed and approved.
After the Public Hearing, the Council approved the following items in the Unfinished Business and New Business portions of the meeting:
• Ordinance No. 1227: Donation and government-to-government transfer of the vacated portion of Chloride Street to Western New Mexico University (WNMU), contingent upon the purchase of adjacent property by WNMU.
• Public Celebration Permit Application for Q's Southern Bistro to serve alcohol on Pope Street during the Blues Festival on May 23 from 5 to 11 pm; on May 24 from 12 to 11 pm; and on May 25 from 12 to 10 pm.
• Resolution No. 2014-17 authorizing Mayor Morones to act as representative for and authorizing the submission of a NM Community Development Block Grant Program Application to the NM Department of Finance and Administration for infrastructure improvements on Chihuahua Hill.
• Rescheduling the April 22 Town Council Meeting to be held at 6 pm on Monday, April 21, 2014.
The meeting was then adjourned.