Johnnie Meier frustrated with delays over Santa Rosa Route 66 museum

Johnnie Meier last week publicly voiced his frustrations with delays over establishing a Route 66 museum in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, and later said alternate sites for the museum likely “are on the table.”

The Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse in Santa Rosa.

Meier, who owns the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, New Mexico, and is a former president of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, brought his Route 66 museum proposal to the Santa Rosa city council two months ago and received a favorable response. He wants the museum to include a variety of New Mexico history “mini-museums” and a high-end gift shop in the century-old Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse just off Route 66 near downtown.

According to a report in the current print edition of The Communicator newspaper in Santa Rosa, Meier said he’s heard nothing from the city since that meeting two months ago when the city council directed city attorney Michael Rosenberg to draw up a proposed lease.

Rosenberg told Meier last week he’d done nothing about the lease because Mayor Nelson Kotiar “had not asked him” to do so. Rosenberg then directed Meier to negotiate with the mayor.

I contacted Meier via email Monday. He said he’s had no contact with anyone with the city of Santa Rosa since the council meeting last week. Meier stated:

I’ve been negotiating with various city administrators for more than 10 years. As editorialized in the newspaper, the present administration has failed to follow through on a number of commitments including inaction on state allocated city street funds. The state recalled the funds due to inaction.  The Mayor has fired or had resignations from three City Managers in his first year in office, temp City Manager on the job now. The Mayor hired A City Attorney that actually resides in Colorado with what appears to be limited knowledge of New Mexico municipal law. I think it is fair to say there is a degree of dysfunction in the present city administration that I hope can be addressed with the hiring of a competent City Manager. 

The Communicator criticized Kotiar on its editorial page of the same edition. After describing the problems that have arisen with Santa Rosa’s city government in recent months, the editorial stated:

The problem is multifaceted. The mayor is, to put it nicely, a hands-on leader, or to put it harshly, a micromanager, and his scattergun approach to problem-solving misses the mark when it comes to execution. Plus, having hired and lost two city administrators (both of whom left supremely frustrated with the mayor) hasn’t helped. […]
Enough of all this foot-dragging. Consider the issues and make a decision, then make sure that decision is executed. The city would be much better off with leadership that gets the job done.

The editorial also criticized Rosenberg, stating he should “act in the best interests of the city” and not only the interests of the mayor.

When Meier was asked Monday whether he was considering alternative sites for a Route 66 museum in the wake of his frustrations with Santa Rosa, he wrote:

In the past, I have had attractive offers from Tucumcari, Clines Corners, and ABQ. I expect these offers are still on the table.

(Image of the Ilfeld-Johnson Warehouse in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, by Visit Santa Rosa via Facebook)

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