Business owners voice support for downtown project, roundabouts

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AZTEC — The Farmington City Council unanimously approved early-stage designs for the downtown Complete Streets project during its Tuesday evening meeting.

Prior to the presentation, City Manager Rob Mayes said approval of the 30-percent plans means the City Council supports the conceptual aspects of the plan. He said the city will now move forward with design details.

The council also heard a presentation about a transitional living facility for recently-released inmates.

A video of the meeting and copies of the approved design plans can be found online at fmtn.org.

Complete Streets moves forward

“For too long we have allowed our Main Street to become a hallway,” said Sherry Roach, the project manager.

She said people have used the street to get from one place to another. The project aims to turn the downtown into a “social living room,” or a destination location, according to Roach.

Roundabouts and lane reductions are included in the plans to slow the speed of traffic and to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street. The plans also call for wider sidewalks, which will allow businesses to offer outdoor dining.  

Several downtown business owners attended the meeting to voice support for the plan. Many of the comments focused on addressing concerns about roundabouts.

“They're going to make traffic move smoothly,” said Karen Ellsbury, who owns Studio 116. “People will actually love them.”

Bev and Tom Taylor, who own Artifacts Gallery at the east end of downtown, also voiced support for the project.

“Everybody embraces change as long as it happens to someone else,” said Tom Taylor, a former mayor who owns property on the east end of downtown. “Change is a great thing. We've been years and years of having ideas and putting them forth on the downtown area and it's great to see something finally happening. I think it's a great concept.”

Bev Taylor said the Complete Streets project will increase interest in the downtown area.

“I can't express to you how excited I am about the possibilities for joy and happiness that will come from this plan,” she said.

Transitional living program discussed

In addition to approving the Complete Streets designs, the council heard a presentation about a program that offers transitional living services to former inmates.

Since the nonprofit faith-based ministry Convicted By Christ opened Byron's House of Hope in January, it has received 37 applications from caseworkers for inmates to utilize the services offered, according to Brian Myers, ministry director for Convicted By Christ.

It can house eight men. Myers said there are five men currently accepted into the program and four applications pending.

Myers said 80 percent of inmates in New Mexico will return to prison within a year of being released.

“There is no benefit to releasing inmates into the community with unchanged criminal thinking, untreated addictions and without education and vocational tools needed to succeed,” he said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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