Melrose hoping for change, growth

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The Village of Melrose is trying to plan ahead and entice growth.

With a changed mission at Cannon Air Force Base, a new medical center underway and local energy projects on the horizon, the community of about 700 is looking to prepare for change.

And villagers want growth, Mayor Lance Pyle said.

Thursday the village council will vote on a draft comprehensive plan following a 6 p.m. public meeting at City Hall.

The plan was paid for through a $25,000 grant and is the first such study the village has commissioned, Pyle said.

Promoting Melrose as a desirable place to live and working towards revitalization of a more compact downtown are among measures it calls for.

Pyle said the community’s strength lies in its school system, low cost of living and proximity to Cannon and Clovis.

The soon-to-be addition of a full service medical clinic on Main Street is a step towards the future, he said.

The town’s Main Street has a beauty shop, bank, senior center and a couple of accountant’s offices, but there are many vacant buildings that could be put to use, he said.

In looking to the future, residents want to see the downtown area come back to life and would like to see things like a grocery store, and a hotel and full service restaurant — all things that could stimulate economic development.

“The community supports growth they believe its necessary and its desirable,” he said. But, “When planning for the growth (residents want to keep) the small town aspects. “It’s a family community everybody’s a family.”

The 22-page plan, prepared by R.M. Draker and Associates and Dennis Engineering Company, evaluated the village, from population history to projections, available and projected housing needs, land use and infrastructure.

Population numbers in the village have steadily dwindled, the plan shows, with a decrease of 58 people from 2000 to 2008.

In 1950 the community experienced its largest population at 936 and has been declining since.

With an average age of 42, more than 26 percent of the population is older than 60.

And there are 375 housing units at an average estimated value of $53,000, more than 30 percent of which were built in or prior to 1939.

If over the next 30 years, the community were to grow to 1,147 people, an additional 174 to 245 houses would be needed.

With 626 undeveloped acres in the city, Pyle said at least three development groups are eying the community for potential subdivisions.

And there are existing homes that with renovations or improvements, Pyle said, could be affordable and comfortable housing.

“You’ve got to also have quality of life activities to help retain residents and attract people to live in the village,” he said.

Pyle said the village has already started working towards more quality of life activities, like improvements to the park and plans to add a walking trail.