Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Residents surveyed on potential sports complex

City, county and school officials and others interested in recreation and sports in Curry County filled the chairs in the Curry County Commission's meeting room Monday to register and express their views on what a recreation and sports center in Curry County would include and where it should be located.

Data from a survey among those who attended and public comments were collected by representatives of Vigil and Associates, an Albuquerque architecture firm. Vicente Castillo, an architect with the firm, said the architects will take the information from Monday's session and other data collection surveys and develop preliminary drawings, as the center develops.

While results of Monday's live survey were not immediately available. Results of an earlier survey conducted online that drew more than 300 responses indicate that sports was considered the best reason to build such a structure, with 58% choosing that option.

Among activities survey respondents said they participate in now, gym, cardio and weights received the most preference at 20%. Basketball followed with 12%. Swimming and volleyball were tied at 12%.

The respondents indicated they participate in such activities "a few times a week (51%) or "daily," 27%. "Monthly" and "Seasonally" filled in the remaining 22%.

Asked which recreational activities cause them to travel farther than they would like, 18% chose "swimming," and 14% chose "none," but 12% marked "everything."

Clovis facilities dominated among spaces and parks currently used for recreation. Hillcrest Park was chosen by 18%, and Ned Houk Park and the Roy Walker Recreation Center chosen by 12% of the respondents. School facilities were chosen by 12% of the respondents and "green space and roads" by 10%.

While 60% of respondents indicated they would support a site at the Curry County Fairgrounds, the original location proposed for the center, 25% said "no."

The top three indoor recreation spaces survey respondents indicated they would like to see in a rec center were sports courts, multi-use spaces, and an indoor swimming pool.

Survey respondents indicated, however the county most needs paved walking and bike paths, open play turf areas and basketball courts.

Comments and questions from the floor covered topics from the material that would be used on running tracks, to whether the proposed facility could host state high school tournaments, to how accessible a recreation and sports center in Clovis would be for potential users in communities like Melrose, Texico, and Grady, which are up to 30 miles from Clovis.

On the question of track material, Ray Vigil, the owner of Vigil and Associates, said planning is not far enough along to answer that question.

K.C. Messick, manager of the Curry County Events Center, asked whether the new recreation center would be large enough to host state high school basketball and volleyball competitions. Vigil responded it would depend on the budget.

Texico Schools Superintendent Robert Brown asked whether Clovis would have enough hotel space to accommodate state tourney crowds.

Grady Schools Superintendent Keith Durham, whose district is the farthest from Clovis in the county, said transportation to the proposed recreation center would be a secondary concern compared with availability of services and resources at the facility.

Brown said that a survey conducted among Texico students indicated 80% would want to participate in basketball, and 97% said they would participate in baseball in youth sports leagues, which Texico would have a hard time accommodating by itself.

Melrose Schools Superintendent Brian Stacy said he has been asked by Clovis Schools whether his gym would have space for some sports activities and repeated Brown's concerns about the Melrose district.

Stacy was also concerned that the new facility would end up favoring Clovis school activities at the expense of other districts. Vigil said the vision for the center is to assure the facility is used county-wide.

One questioner asked whether the new center would replace the Roy Walker Recreational Center on Clovis' west side. Vigil said the new center would supplement, not replace existing facilities.

Former Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb said the Clovis facility could be a centralized location for youth league sports county-wide and could reduce travel times between far-flung Curry County communities for competitions between community teams.

Other commenters described recreational facilities in Roswell, Santa Fe and Lubbock that included indoor tracks, indoor soccer fields, racquetball courts and even a swimming-pool like space for skateboarding.

Curry County Commissioner Robert Thornton said, "I don't know how far we can go" with the recreational center.

He said he was concerned that the center could get "so big and fancy it could go out of control."

Even after it is constructed, there would still be questions of how the lights would stay on, who would be there night and day.

"Who would be willing to do that now?" he asked.

He said he would favor making the center more usable for more people, but he seemed to favor taking the recreation center's planning and construction step by step rather than all at once..

Brown said cost would be a major concern. A gymnasium at a Texico elementary school is estimated to cost $5 million.

County Manager Lance Pyle said the commission would prioritize and phase in the project.

Other county officials said funding would come from grants and capital outlay funding, and not all at once.