A story in last Sunday’s Las Cruces Sun-News announced that Louisiana had named a section of highway in honor of legendary New Mexico lawman Pat Garrett, who killed notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. The Louisiana Legislature designated a section of Louisiana Highway 9 from the towns of Homer to Junction City as “Sheriff Pat Garrett Memorial Highway.”
The story notes that history-minded individuals in that state had confirmed that Garret grew up in the Claiborne Parish area of Louisiana before moving to New Mexico to become one of the state’s most recognized citizens. And the Louisiana residents recognized the publicity value of putting his name on a roadway in that area.
“Pat’s youth was spent working on the farm and hunting in the woods of Claiborne Parish (Louisiana), acquiring the skills to prepare him for a future of hard long trails and difficult times,” the Claiborne County Library said in a notice about the dedication ceremony for the stretch of highway.
But in Las Cruces, our local government couldn’t find the wisdom to offer the famous New Mexico lawman that kind of recognition by renaming a short street in his honor. The local historical association had suggested that a street with the existing uninspiring name “Motel Boulevard” be renamed in honor of Garrett, who was Sheriff of Dona Ana County at the time he killed Billy the Kid. And the current Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office headquarters is located on that street. Truth be told, there’s only one run-down motel on Motel Boulevard anymore, so any new street name would have been better than that. The motel, called the Coachlight Inn, was once owned by former Dallas Cowboy player Bob Lilly and has seen better days. A faded billboard promoting the property on eastbound Interstate 10 is in a bad state of repair as well, with part of the sign missing but Lilly’s jersey number 88 still proudly on display on a Cowboys helmet.
The Las Cruces City Council, in its wisdom (or lack thereof) decided that there were lots of people who could be recognized for their role in the history of our region. One city council member suggested and all-encompassing but insipid name — “Legends Boulevard.” And then another complained that the cost of changing street signs to honor Garrett would have been too expensive. Eventually, the City Council axed the idea on a 4-3 vote, seemingly oblivious to the additional exposure our city would have had (and possibly leaning too much on political correctness.)
So I’ve decided to start a petition to have the street in question re-named in honor of our City Council. It would be “Unimaginative City Council Boulevard.”