During the Truth or Consequences (T-or-C) Parks and Recreation Advisory Board’s January 6 regular meeting, members accepted extended public comments relating to the planned renovation of Ralph Edwards Park and the project’s potential effects on future event planning.
In a review of current project plans, Parks Department Manager O.J. Hechler noted contractor negotiations were still underway for phase-one development. This phase would see a significant reworking of the parks grounds, as well as the installation of a new irrigation system, grass and a new sidewalk layout. At present, the project is scheduled to begin in earnest in April, with hopes of seeing completion of the initiative in early summer. Hechler acknowledged this tentative timeline would require the relocation of Fiesta events, farmers market and other events that have traditionally utilized Ralph Edwards Park during the spring and early summer months.
Discussion during the evening’s session centered on the potential of centering more of the annual Fiesta and other events in and about the downtown district. Such a move was generally viewed as being necessary to better preserve the park’s infrastructure and green spaces, while also an opportunity for the city’s business district to more fully engage future events.
While no major objections were raised toward such goals for the future, Fiesta board member Susan Curry noted the present lack of a secured contract was leaving planners in flux. She pointed out that a delay in this process could easily allow this year’s Fiesta to proceed as originally planned, freeing the event to utilize Ralph Edwards Park and setting back relocation concerns to 2021.
Advisory board chairman Dr. Greg D’Amour acknowledged this factor and said he would be forwarding citizen concerns and a recommendation from the board to the city commission. He said commissioners would likely review the issue during their upcoming January 22 regular meeting, and emphasized city leaders would determine if the renovation project would move forward on the present schedule, or if it would be delayed until after the Fiesta celebration