Amy, Whatcha Gonna Do?
[RE: Feature, “Charting a New Course,” Feb. 23-March 1]
Although I was not lucky enough to know her as a good friend, I attended high school with Amy Biehl back in 1984-85. Santa Fe High School, at that time, was the only public high school in the city, and it was a huge, terrifying, racially divided, badly overcrowded, violence-plagued school from which a small percentage (Amy included) emerged successfully. I became truant to escape the horror. In danger of having me permanently expelled, my mother began looking for other options. There was a Catholic school (we're not Catholic and couldn't afford tuition if we were), an Indian school (we're not Native American), and that was about it. My mother and I fled the city to find a larger pool of schools from which to choose, and landed in Albuquerque. I ended up graduating from West Mesa during the years it was lucky enough to have been led by Richard Toledo.
When Amy Biehl High School was first announced, I was angry and worried, feeling they were taking advantage of someone I knew and respected to push an unworthy cause. Now I am proud to see how wrong I was. It thrills me, and I'm sure it would thrill Amy, to know there are viable, working schools that not only offer children safety, fundamentals and test scores, but also creativity, community and choice. There are many without my good fortune who have prematurely ended their education because traditional public schools do not have the resources to offer individualized attention when needed.
EDo or EDon't?
How soon we forget what it is that makes our city unique and desirable. Might I suggest affordability as one draw? What about culture and simplicity? These things are diminishing before our very eyes.
One example that encapsulates the essence of what is occurring is the whole "EDo" project. First of all, it entails a complete lack of respect shown by its creators in their renaming of a historic neighborhood in the interest of business. Barelas. Martineztown. Los Griegos. Los Candelarias. These are all names of neighborhoods that have developed over time and are named after families with known roots and residence in that particular area. These spots have character because they have significance, historically and culturally. You can't just name an area that had a name and a sense of itself already. That's just manifest destiny on a smaller scale.
In addition, projects like EDo drive up real estate prices in poorer neighborhoods (with highly priced lofts, etc.), taxes go up and the locals can't afford to live there anymore or even hope to buy a home there. Most of the locals are Chicanos. Most of the newcomers are not. That's gentrification. How could this possibly go unnoticed unless it's been intentionally ignored?
It has been repeatedly stressed that EDo has replaced the rundown crack hotels that once stood there. All I can say to that is crackheads need a place to stay, too.
Growth and development aren't inherently bad, but there's a right way and a wrong way. Community includes everyone, not just the rich. If we claim to be building a better Albuquerque, let's really make a better Albuquerque for Albuquerqueans, not for wealthy outsiders who want a second home here. Santa Fe is already lost, but perhaps there's hope for Burque.
A Berg of Courage
[RE: Newscity, “Big Brother is Watching,” Feb. 9-15]
I would like to congratulate your paper for printing Ms. Laura Berg's letter to the editor. For those of us who have served, her words resound with inalienable truth. Since none of the Bush sycophants has ever served, and Bush himself is a devout moral and physical coward, proven by his desertion from his assigned posting during the Vietnam War, I believe that it would be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for Bush's people to try to do harm to this lady by charging her with sedition.
Since your paper is the only connection for people like myself, tell Ms. Berg how much I admire her courage. I would hope that you would do this for me, and I assume there are many others who feel much the same towards her.
[Re: Letters, “A Commuter's Commentary,” Feb. 16-22]
Mr. Bainbridge has good cause to be concerned about traffic conditions for Westsiders. However, his anger is misdirected. First of all, the Commentary [“The Long and Winding Roads,” Feb. 9-15] was written by me—not by Alibi staff—as clearly indicated in the sidebar near the top of the article. I recently retired from my position of transportation planner at MRCOG. I have been familiar with these issues for 17 years now, and I worked on the analysis for both the Paseo del Norte extension and the Montaño widening.
My “main solution” is not a bus-only lane. That is only one component of what I presented. Bus lanes across Montaño have not been given the benefit of a full study. One can see that if buses were five minutes apart, there would be 12 per hour. If 60 or 80 people were packed on each bus, that would transport 720 to 960 persons per hour, equivalent to a full lane's worth of car traffic. I'm not saying that would happen, but it's not infeasible on the face of it.
What is infeasible is that road building is going to solve this long-term problem. There are a couple major road improvements which will help, including the completion of the new Coors interchange, and eventually an interchange on Paseo del Norte at Jefferson combined with a new higher capacity interchange at Paseo and I-25. These projects will buy some more time. Dumping more traffic onto I-25 at Paseo, though, will worsen congestion problems on I-25. What then?
Mr. Bainbridge says the "real-world bottom line" is moving "more people per minute," but that's just the supply side. He ignores the demand side, which includes land use development patterns, among other things. If I lived on the Westside, I would not be dismissing planned Westside employment centers like Double Eagle, but pushing hard for them.
I sympathize with the frustrations of Westside commuters, but a continuation of business-as-usual and feeding the monster with asphalt is only going to grow a larger monster: It's the monster mash, and it's a graveyard smash.