August 7, 2008

Beach Comfort to Be Enhanced By Umbrellas

By Stella Davis, Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.

Aug. 7--CARLSBAD -- Sitting under the shade of an umbrella with toes dug in the warm sand, the sun glistening on the water nearby and a cold drink in hand won't require a trip out of town.

Carlsbad already has plenty of sunshine and a river to play in and coming soon, permanently fixed umbrellas shading picnic tables will grace the beach area.

On Tuesday, in a 4-1 vote, the Eddy County Commission approved a request from the Pecos River Committee for funding to purchase six umbrellas that will be permanently anchored in the ground.

Commission Chairman Guy Lutman cast the dissenting vote.

Don Garringer, Pecos River Committee co-chairman, said that eight umbrellas were needed, but if the commission agreed to six of them, the Carlsbad Community Foundation indicated it would be willing to provide the funding for the additional two umbrellas.

The Foundation's board of directors met Tuesday evening and approved the purchase of the two umbrellas.

Presenting his request to the commission, Garringer said the committee

he co-chairs is a working committee and serves as an advisory board to the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Garringer said the city had purchased umbrellas, but they were not conducive to Carlsbad's hot and windy climate and they deteriorated quickly.

"The wind and weather was hard on the umbrellas. Also, they had to be put up and taken down every day. The umbrellas we want to buy are expensive about $900 each and will be the type you would see in Florida and they will be put permanently in the ground. These umbrellas will withstand winds reaching 150 miles per hour. They are made to last in all types of weather," Garringer explained.

Lutman said that he supports the placement of umbrellas at the beach area, but believes that the cost for the umbrellas should be borne by the city's lodger's tax.

"I know the city has an abundant amount of money in its lodger's tax fund. That's what it's for, things like this (that) help improve tourism in Carlsbad," he said.

When he asked Garringer if the committee had exhausted all avenues to obtain funding, Garringer replied that the Foundation had been approached and the county was the next stop. He said the Lodger's Tax Committee had met recently, and the quarterly meeting had been missed by his committee.

"I know for sure that they could call a special meeting if there is a need," Lutman said.

He said following Tuesday's commission meeting that by honoring the request, the commission has opened the door for other nonprofit organizations to seek funding for their projects.

"I think we opened the flood gates," Lutman said. "The two issues I had with the request were that to me, it was more of a capital outlay request. They knew that they wanted these umbrellas for some time. They should have put in their request when we were working on the budget and taking outside requests. The other thing that bothered me is that they did not exhaust all avenues before coming to the county. Had they done that, I would not have had a problem giving them the money."

Commissioner Janell Whitlock, who made the motion for the county to provide $5,400 for six umbrellas, said the city will be the fiscal agent for the county's funds.

Whitlock said that although the umbrellas will be on city property, county residents use the beach facilities just as much as those living inside the city limits.

Garringer said in addition to enhancing the beach area with picnic tables and umbrellas, the committee has been working with the city on the proposed renovation of the bathhouse.

"The city has approved the upgrades of the bathhouse and restrooms," he said. "The bathhouse was built in 1933 by the federal WPA (Work Progress Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), and nothing much has been done on it since then."


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