The Eddy County Commission voted to vacate three county roads during its meeting this morning in Carlsbad.
The public hearing, the second of four scheduled, was followed by a discussion on whether or not to vacate five roads on the county’s list of consideration. The roads in question today were Onsurez Road (CR 731), El Lobo Road (CR 715), Willhoit Road (CR 775), Nash Draw (CR 794), and Red Cloud Road (CR 799).
Members of the Freeholders Board, a board comprised of five Eddy County residents appointed by the commissioners, went on several field trips to determine the quality and usage of each road individually. Letters were sent to nearby landowners, and legal ads were placed in both the Daily Press and the Carlsbad Current-Argus announcing the hearings.
Onsurez Road (CR 731) is a half-mile road between Ogden and Bramble roads which crosses a river. According to Public Works Director Ray Romero and Assistant County Manager Kenny Rayroux, landowners contacted the county and requested the vacation of the road.
The vacation will also eliminate the maintenance of a low-water crossing on the road, which has previously posed many problems for the Public Works Department.
“This was damaged in 2014 along with other roads in that part of the county. That section of the road has basically been closed since that time,” said Rayroux. “The Freeholders Board looked at it and looked at what it takes to maintain it, and their recommendation is to vacate it.”
Commissioner James Walterscheid, who ultimately voted “no” on the vacation, commented on the historical value of the road and asked about the cost of potential repair. Romero said fixing the low-water crossing alone would cost approximately $500,000.
“One idea I had to satisfy people was to put up some kind of historical marker,” said Walterscheid. “This is so people could recognize the historical value. It is definitely history; it is the only road connecting Malaga to Loving.”
The vote was four to one in favor of vacating. The second road in question was El Lobo Road (CR 715), a half-mile stretch of chip-seal road from U.S. 285 to a farm house. The recommendation from the Freeholders Board post-evaluation was to not vacate the road, due to three residences at the end of it. The vote on El Lobo Road was 5-0 against vacation.
Willhoit Road (CR 775), a 3.7-mile stretch of caliche road, was unanimously vacated. Nash Draw (CR 794), a 1.47-mile chip-seal road from SR 128 to an abandoned mine site, was the fourth road in question.
A letter from Don Purvis, general manager of Mosaic Potash of Carlsbad, was sent to the county expressing no objection to the vacation of the road. The commissioners voted unanimously to vacate.
Red Cloud Road (CR 799), a recently-rebuilt, 2.1-mile stretch of asphalt road from U.S. 62/180 to a mine, partly located in Lea County, was the final road in question. The Freeholders Board requested the road not be vacated, and the commissioners voted unanimously in agreement with the board.
In other business today, recently appointed Eddy County Fire Marshal Kevin Hope approached the commissioners with the intent of pursuing an Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG), which will provide funds to assist Eddy County Emergency Management in obtaining the resources required to support a comprehensive all-hazards emergency preparedness system.
In an agenda item request following, Hope also requested the hiring of an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator contingent on the award of the EMPG. The commissioners unanimously voted to approve both requests.
As part of its resolution and agreement consent agenda, the commission approved the following items:
• NMDOT Local Government Road Fund Cooperative Agreement
• NMDOT Local Government Road Fund County Arterial Program agreement
• NMDOT Local Government Road Fund school bus agreement
• Disposal, removal or revision of items in the Eddy County inventory/assets
• Burn Building Grant agreement
• Financial/work plan for predator and rodent control with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services