Time to start Clovis cleanup on entryways

Freedom New Mexico

Let’s talk some trash.

Or is it treasure?

Check out the abandoned buildings surrounded by shattered glass, rotted wood and busted concrete on the eight-mile drive from Clovis to Cannon Air Force Base. Some of the doors don’t latch anymore. Some of the roofs don’t keep out the pigeons, much less rain or sandstorms.

Look at all the rusted metal just off the highways coming into the city from all directions. It used to be somebody’s car or tractor or hay barn; now it just collects moisture and mosquitoes, and provides cover for jackrabbits and skunks.

Don’t overlook the tumbleweeds, the dead and dying trees on the way to Texico to the east, or the fast-food wrappers, cardboard boxes and soda cans that collect in and around them.

Cannon’s newcomers title the roads into town and out to the base as “The Trail of Tears.” Their first impression of Clovis makes some people cry.

We can debate all day about the definition of blight, the degree of decay, or the point at which Southwestern landscaping becomes owner neglect. The fact is we have shamefully allowed our entryways to become trash heaps.

Yes, those property owners targeted in today’s special report, “Blight Battle,” have every right to claim their mess is not as bad as another’s, or their circumstances are unique, or that no one can tell them how to care for their private property.

But do we really need to waste more time talking about whether the main entrances into Clovis and Curry County need a facelift? No.

The discussion should be: How we can make it happen without trampling individual rights?

For two years, Curry County commissioners — urged by many residents — have tried and failed to pass a law that would ultimately force private landowners to clean up after themselves.

We know nuisance ordinances don’t work well. For proof, drive through Clovis. You will see code violations everywhere, sometimes even on city-owned land.

Now drive to the four city limit signs along the main roads leaving Clovis. Look out into Curry County. The visual assault makes it hard to see where the city ends and the ordinance-free county begins.

We do applaud county commissioners for grabbing the attention of rural residents by threatening new laws.

But the better solution comes from city businesswoman Rose Riley and others: Clean your own mess, or ask for help.

Riley’s been hollering about Clovis’ trashy look for years. Backing up her words, she’s volunteered countless hours with the Keep Clovis Beautiful Committee. Riley went with our reporters and pointed out places she thinks should be priorities for cleanup.

The committee members know that many elderly, poor and disabled residents are physically unable to keep their homes and yards looking nice. So they knock on doors and volunteer their time or, sometimes, make private cash donations.

That won’t work for everybody, so we understand why amateur videographers continue occasional postings of Clovis blight on YouTube and other online social networking sites. They aim to shame a few folks into cleaning up their property. But the best strategy is a positive approach: Remember to be a good neighbor.

Expand that idea and effect change on a larger scale, without a new law or more tax dollars being spent.

Clovis’ entryways have become so disgusting many community leaders fear the loss of economic growth opportunities because of how we look.

So here’s the bottom line: Clovis’ entryways are going to get cleaned up in the coming months, one way or another. Let’s volunteer to do it ourselves, or our government will volunteer more of our money to try and do the job.

Given government’s record of “helping” its residents, which makes more sense?