LAS CRUCES - In the next five years, Las Cruces city leaders plan to renovate and attract more business to the downtown area, implement daily commercial flights out of the city's airport, improve city infrastructure and provide greater access to education.
All the proposed improvements are part of the city's strategic plan for the years 2017 - 2022, which was unveiled at city hall this week.
Much of the plan includes renovations to the downtown area.
“When people want to visit your city, they always come to the downtown," said Stuart Ed, Las Cruces city manager. "They judge a city by its downtown and its vibrancy."
Mayor Ken Miyagishima agreed.
"When we have people down here, they start utilizing the services, businesses start coming here," Miyagishima said. "It’s really something there to generate the interest downtown."
The Beckett family has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into the downtown area. Pat Beckett opened Coas Bookstore in 1990. Downtown was much different back then.
“It was scary," said Pat's son, Mike Beckett. "It was desolate. It was eery.”
Mike Beckett bought the store from his father several years later, and has seen a tremendous improvement downtown.
“There’s a lot of vibrancy," Beckett said. "There’s a lot of life. There’s a lot more people on the sidewalks that I’ve ever seen... I think the direction we’re going is perfect.”
Beverly Chavez-Floyd owns Patina Home in downtown Las Cruces.
“I think that they’re heading in the right direction, but I think we still have to do a lot more work," Chavez-Floyd said.
Chavez-Floyd added that more politicians should shop downtown, putting their money where their mouths are.
“We really need the support from not only the natives and the people moving here, but from our city leaders," the shop owner said.
During the first full year of the plan, 2018, the city plans to improve sidewalks, parks and landscaping throughout the city. In addition, Las Cruces businesses will be able to visit a "one-stop shop" for permit and licensing needs. The city will also offer more internships and mentorship opportunities.
The following year, 2019, city officials will promote the growth of the downtown area, encouraging more local businesses to move to the area. This year, education
takes a high priority in the plan: The city plans to improve access to public school services and increase the number of graduates who stay in Las Cruces after graduation.
In 2020, the city promises to implement public wi-fi downtown, at the plaza, as well as in the Mesquite neighborhood.
Toward the end of the five-year period, city leaders plan to renovate the Las Cruces airport terminal to provide access to as many as 20,000 flights a year. Las Cruces will also have daily, regional, commercial flights.
The city plans to implement an interactive children's museum in 2022.
Finally, the city will move forward with the Las Cruces to El Paso commuter rail service. The proposed transportation will be included in the 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plans for El Paso and Mesilla Valley.