Rick Dumiak, a Truth or Consequences resident who has taken it upon himself to pick up trash at Rotary Park along the Rio Grande every day, was essentially called a liar during the city commission meeting on Jan. 13.
During the time allotted for public comment, Dumiak, who is chairperson of the Truth or Consequences Planning and Zoning Commission, asked what the city was doing about the trash problem and possible after-hours use of the park. He first reported on these issues during public comment at the commission’s November meeting.
During the time allotted for “response to public comment,”—when city officials may, but often do not respond to concerns raised—City Manager Morris Madrid said of Dumiak’s most recent eyewitness report: “Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true.” Madrid then went on to insist that city park staff is keeping the park clean and there is no trash problem.
City Commissioner Randall Aragon backed up Madrid’s claim, stating he is head of the local Rotary Club chapter and had recently visited the park. “It is manicured,” Aragon said.
The morning after the commission meeting and again this morning, Dumiak took in situ pictures of the trash he saw at the park and posted them on the “Sierra County NM Square” Facebook page to prove his point.
“City Manager Morris Madrid accused me of lying and I couldn’t even respond, which is why I posted it on Facebook,” Dumiak told the Sun.
“I have been picking up the garbage, cans, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, clothing, needles, bottles and things you can’t imagine since June of 2020,” Dumiak posted on NM Square. “I do this every morning as I walk my dog.”
“During the week I fill half an eight-to-10-gallon trash bag,” Dumiak told the Sun. “The bag is full on Saturday and Sunday.”
Rotary Park has seen increased use since Ralph Edwards Park was closed down around April 2020 for renovation, a project that was initiated by Madrid without public or city commission approval. The park was initially scheduled to reopen October 2020. Madrid has previously explained the pandemic and the July 26, 2020, flood event have stalled the reopening.
Mayor Pro Tem Amanda Forrister asked Madrid for an update on the park project during this week’s city commission meeting.
Madrid said “we are measuring the roots” of the sod installed throughout most of the park, in order to ensure that it is well established before people are allowed to walk on it. He speculated that the grass might be sufficiently rooted within a month, meaning by around mid-February. If so, the construction fencing around the park will come down and it will be returned to public, he promised.