Visions of progress – quay county sun university of kansas business school

Before local officials can get help in cleaning up underground pollutants at the old shell truck stop on the west side of tucumcari, they need to show funding sources what happens next.

With guidance from professors oral saulters, kansas state university, and moises gonzales, university of new mexico, and gonzales’s graduate students, city, county and regional government officials and business leaders held a "visioning conference" at the tucumcari convention center friday. Saulters is an engineering professor at kansas state. Gonzales teaches community and regional planning at UNM.

The conference’s goal was to gather information that leads to a plan – a vision – for what the old truck stop and nearby properties will host after the pollution problems are corrected.

Longtime residents remembered when the site hosted a drive-in theater, before the truck stop was built, and the days when the truck stop was delivering 20,000 gallons of fuel on even a slow day.Truck stop

At the end of friday’s conference, the graduate students gathered up the lists, maps, charts, and crude drawings that the conference attendants had produced in four randomly selected groups.

They hope to process this information into a recommendation for an april 18 meeting of the visioning group, omega delgado, one of the graduate students said, and their time is short.

The old shell truck stop and an area that includes two fire-damaged, abandoned motels, have been adopted for expert advice on cleaning up environmental hazards, then developing the property through a program called technical assistance to brownfields (TAB), sponsored by the U.S. Environmental protection agency.

A "brownfield" is an area that has some environmental problems, like ground contamination from underground fuel leaks at the truck stop or asbestos at an old building site, according to TAB literature.Truck stop

TAB marshals the forces of the two universities and resources of the new mexico environment department and the U.S. Environmental protection agency to focus on restoring brownfield property to useful purposes.

The greater tucumcari economic development corporation and the eastern plains council of governments applied for technical assistance through TAB last summer.

Graduate student presentations noted that tucumcari has a 1.2-percent unemployment rate, but only 55 percent of its working-age population is in the workforce, and the city has a 20 percent poverty rate.

Food service and accommodations and educational services are the areas with the highest employment among tucumcari residents, he said, and 48 percent of tucumcari residents who are employed travel more than 50 miles to get to their jobs, the graduate students reported.Environment department

Saulters said the site’s owners are working with the new mexico environment department, and the plan for future use that could result from visioning exercises and planning increases the likelihood that the owners and others may receive assistance for the cleanup effort.

Quay county commissioner sue dowell said the project is needed, especially after city fathers persuaded highway officials to place five exits at tucumcari when interstate 40 was built.