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News/Opinion
‹‹ V.15 No.27 | July 6 - 12, 2006

News Bite

From Pavement to Paradise?

The mayor’s proposal for a new park Downtown would make Downtown greener ... but at what cost?

By Simon McCormack

Mayor Martin Chavez has proposed a plan to build a new park Downtown between Third and Fourth Street and Roma and Marquette on a site that is currently used as a parking lot.

The park would have many shade trees, water features and several large television screens that would show live camera feeds of Albuquerque’s Sister Cities. The park would also be Internet accessible and would feature kiosks with smaller screens where Duke City residents could communicate with people in our nine Sister Cities using built-in audio feeds.

At an estimated cost of $4.5 million, the park would be paid for using money from a park and fuel reserve fund from 2005, according to the city’s chief operating officer, Ed Adams.

According to a recently released study by the nonprofit organization The Trust for Public Land, Albuquerque already proportionally has the most land used for parks of any major U.S. city.

“You know the old adage: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’?” asks the mayor’s spokesperson, Deborah James. “Well, the mayor plans to tear up the pavement and put up a Sister Cities park.” James contends that, in addition to beautifying the area, the park will also help economic growth because it will encourage tourists to visit Downtown. James notes that Downtown is in need of a park, especially, she says, since it lost McClellan Park due to the construction of the new federal courthouse.

Yet District 5 City Councilor Michael Cadigan and several neighborhood association members in the northwest part of the city have reservations about the park proposal because they feel the funds could be used for other purposes the city needs, such as new athletic fields. “If you go to Mariposa Basin Park during soccer season, for example, you’ll see kids playing soccer virtually on top of each other,” Cadigan says. “Some kids have to go all the way to Rio Rancho to find a place to play, and Little League and YAFL are the same way.”

Ventana Ranch Neighborhood Association President Laura Horton agrees. “Paradise Hills and West Mesa Little Leagues had to turn kids away because there wasn’t enough space for the kids to play,” Horton says. “I’m not saying the park is a bad idea. It would just be nice to put these kids’ needs first.”

Cadigan also notes there are other parts of the city that have been waiting for parks for several years. The councilor cites the proposed park across the street from Taylor Ranch on the corner of Universe and Paradise as an example.

James says Mayor Chavez is willing to work with Cadigan to address his concerns and that Chavez feels confident there’s enough money to build the Downtown park, new athletic fields and other parks across the city. “I hope that’s true,” Cadigan says. “I hope the administration puts the money where their mouth is and makes a significant commitment to athletic fields in the northwest.”