Officials eye first step of parks plan

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson A view of the enclosed patio at the Youth Recreation Building, through a hole in the patio’s west wall. Lead-based paint and asbestos removal could begin by next week, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said.

Kevin Wilson

At Hillcrest Park sits about 5,000 square feet of concrete, paint and foliage. City officials are hoping by this time next year, it will be a place for youth and families to enjoy incoming and upcoming park amenities.

At the southwest corner of the park, near the intersection of Seventh and Sycamore streets, sits the Youth Recreation Building, known as “YRB” by its faded paint visible along Seventh Street.

It’s been at least a quarter-century, City Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said, since the YRB has been used. He remembers being a teacher in the school system, and it would be used every weekend for dances and other activities.

The building is the likely first step in the city’s parks and recreation master plan. Other projects are dependent on the city issuing new bonds on a “one-16th” tax increment for parks, but the YRB improvements will be paid with $500,000 the city already has from the Sisler Foundation.

“We’re at the mercy of lead-based paint and asbestos abatement,” Bizzell said. “We’re kind of at a standstill.”

The standstill might be over quickly, though. The city operates on a contract basis with Lovington-based GWC Construction, which has submitted a $57,000 bid to take care of lead-based paint and asbestos.

The price is good for 30 days from its May 9 submission date, Bizzell said, and GWC co-owner Steven Simpson said the work should take about a week to complete.

After that, Bizzell said, the “big three” would be electrical work, plumbing work, and heating, vents and air conditioning. He figures that’s a three-month, $300,000 process. What’s left of the $500,000, Bizzell said would go to paint and upgrades to the interior and enclosed patio area, but “we’re thinking we can come out of this with a little bit of savings.”

Bizzell is doubtful school dances would be held at the YRB again, since school facilities are now able to handle such functions. But it could work for low-cost event rentals and be leased to the YMCA of Central New Mexico for summer camps. Bizzell said the group has taken a tour, and already shown an interest in that type of activity.

“They’re a turnkey operation,” Bizzell said of the YMCA, which is planning a summer camp at Highland Elementary. “They’ll take their people and the city doesn’t get into personnel issues.”

Attempts to contact officials for YMCA, which recently opened a Clovis location at Hilltop Plaza, were unsuccessful.

The YRB is located a short walk from the zoo and the Clovis Wellness Center, but other planned upgrades in the Hillcrest Park area include a splash park, walking trails, youth sports fields and an amphitheater.

“You’ll have a lot of things to do in a very near vicinity,” Bizzell said.

Other upcoming parks and recreation plans for the summer:

• Bizzell said the nine-hole municipal golf course will be in play most of the summer, and there will be some type of send-off tournament.

There’s already one potential entrant. Bizzell said his son Brock learned golf at the municipal course, and has indicated he’ll come from Dallas to play in the tournament.

• Plans are to open Potter Pool next week. The pool would be open at 1 p.m. every day except Wednesday, when it is closed. Closing times would be 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 6 p.m. Mondays and Fridays and 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.