News you can use from the City of Las Cruces

• The City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department will extend hours of operation at the Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center, 304 W. Bell Ave., beginning September 5. Hour will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday – Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

New programs, classes and activities schedule will be available September 1. For information regarding party rentals or other general information, contact the Frank O’ Brien Papen Community Center at 541-2455.

• As the result of a recent traffic study, the City of Las Cruces recently installed a “No Left Turn” sign on eastbound Sedona Hills Parkway at Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.

Left turns will be prohibited from eastbound Sedona Hills onto Sonoma Ranch. The left turn restriction will increase safety by reducing conflicts between turning vehicles and through vehicles.

As an alternative to access northbound Sonoma Ranch, drivers can use eastbound Fire Mountain Lane at Sonoma Ranch or make a U-turn at Sonora Springs Boulevard.

For more information, call 541-2505. The TTY number is 541-2182.

• Thomas Branigan Memorial Library has a new printing company resulting in a change in fees for printed copies. Copies are 10 cents a page, no refunds. For more information, contact the Public Computer Lab at 528-4036.

• The City of Las Cruces last month announced plans to reallocate resources to Municipal Court to more fully utilize the Court to benefit the public.

Municipal Court handles all violations of the City’s Municipal Code including DWI and petty misdemeanor cases.

“Municipal Court is one of the three branches of Las Cruces city government. After an evaluation of the court’s caseload, and examining it from a cost/benefit perspective, we found that the taxpaying public was not being fully served. So, the city decided to reallocate resources to Municipal Court prosecutions in order to maximize efficiency and comply with the City Charter,” said Mayor Ken Miyagishima.

“Las Cruces is a municipal home rule city, which provides for maximum local self-government. This change will help us meet that end. Revenues generated by Municipal Court remain in the city, which benefits public safety through local law enforcement,” said City Manager Stuart C. Ed.

The reallocation of funding will add a prosecutor and support staff in the City Attorney’s office who will be assigned to Municipal Court.

• The City of Las Cruces has entered into a license agreement with the El Paso VA Health Care System for private office space in unused portions of the Municipal Court building, 135 E. Griggs Ave.

VA caseworkers in Las Cruces were having to vacate their existing location and approached the City for office space. The license agreement, prepared as an emergency accommodation, provides for a total of 1,194 square feet in the north end of the court building. The annual license fee of $9,850.50 is for a two-year period; August 1, 2017 through July 31, 2019.

“When we learned the VA was in need of office space, we immediately responded,” said City Manager Stuart C. Ed. “Their caseworkers provide vital assistance to area veterans and we wanted to ensure their services would continue uninterrupted. We quickly identified available office space and worked out an equitable arrangement to get them in fast,” Ed said.

A license agreement is not a lease, but a non-transferable, non-exclusive right and revocable permission to use the premises in accordance with conditions contained in the agreement.

• The latest National Citizen Survey conducted by the City of Las Cruces shows that nearly three-quarters of Las Crucens surveyed positively rated their overall quality of life. The same number favorably rated their neighborhood as a place to live, while about six in 10 were pleased with the overall image and appearance of the city. About eight in 10 residents indicated that they planned to remain in the Las Cruces for the next five years and would recommend living in Las Cruces to someone who asked.

The survey was conducted from January through March of this year. Of the 1,500 surveys mailed, 1,011 were completed. They included 666 online surveys and 345 mailed surveys.

“What we found interesting is how the survey results parallel the recently developed, five-year Strategic Plan approved by City Council on July 17,” said Assistant City Manager William Studer.

“If you look at the Strategic Plan and areas the survey indicates need improving, I think you’ll find a pretty good correlation,” Studer said. “It indicates that city councilors have reflected really well what their constituents have told them, because clearly, the direction the council is leading us over the next five years is part of the direction that the survey indicates we probably ought to be going in.”

Areas the survey showed need improvement include quality of business and service establishments, which are among those addressed in the 20 priorities of new Strategic Plan; the relationship between the business community and the city will be strengthened by a one-stop shop for licensing and permitting, more small businesses located downtown and at the West Mesa Industrial Park, among others.

Another area is quality education. The Strategic Plan addresses that by offering internships, apprenticeships and mentorship programs to the community; enhancing early childhood education with access to an interactive children’s museum; and information and referral services for families with young children will be integrated into all appropriate city services.

Complete survey results can be accessed on the city’s website at las-cruces.org and entering the word SURVEY in the search box. The new Strategic Plan and Mission Statement is on the home page under Hot Topics.