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City council tables Estrada memorial, creates redistricting panel


At its Sept. 7 regular meeting, the Las Cruces City Council indefinitely tabled a resolution to name the soundstage at the south end of Plaza de Las Cruces in honor of longtime Las Cruces icon Roberto Estrada so that city staff can meet with Estrada’s family to help determine a suitable name for the memorial.

At the meeting, the council also created a citizen committee to address city council redistricting proposals and addressed cannabis use inside city limits.

The Estrada memorial resolution will be brought back to city council for consideration at a future date for adoption.

Estrada, who died Aug. 18, was a Las Cruces philanthropist, Guinness World Record holder and founder of Roberto’s Mexican Food Restaurant. In 1980, he was approached by the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce to contribute his cooking skills to an event that was then known as Vaquero Days. The event was renamed The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, and it became an ongoing annual event that put Las Cruces on the map.

The fiesta culminated with Estrada, his staff and volunteers preparing a huge red enchilada. With only two exceptions, Estrada made his signature enchilada every year from 1980 to 2014, when the festival ended.

His world-famous 10.5-feet-in-diameter enchilada held the Guinness World Record from 2000 to 2010 for the world’s largest flat enchilada. The fiesta had received recognition as one of the top 100 festivals in the U.S. and as one of the three largest events in New Mexico.

Also at the meeting, the council unanimously adopted a resolution to create a citizen ad hoc committee to work with Research & Polling, Inc., of Albuquerque to evaluate city council redistricting proposals. Results of the 2020 U.S. Census were publicly disclosed Aug. 12 and the city’s population has grown an estimated 14 percent to more than 111,000.

As a result of the population increase, the city charter requires that each council district “shall contain as nearly as possible substantially the same population based upon the most recent federal census.” The council, as a result, must approve a redistricting proposal.

The Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee will consist of seven Las Cruces residents. Each city councilor will appoint one member who is a resident of the councilor’s district, and the mayor will appoint the seventh committee member.

The council also adopted an ordinance that will address cannabis uses within the city. Information about the ordinance and the amendments to it that were passed by the council will be available at www.las-cruces.org/2506/Cannabis-Information.

In early 2021, the state of New Mexico legalized cannabis for adult recreational use with the passage of House Bill 2, which includes the Cannabis Regulation Act. Until the city council’s Sept. 7 action on the local ordinance, the municipal code had no provisions regulating adult-use cannabis production, manufacturing and consumption.