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 V.18 No.12 | March 19 - 25, 2009 

Council Watch

A Lot of Talk for a Little Action

Mike Smith

If city councilors were not aware before their short Monday, March 16 meeting that Albuquerque residents love their neighborhood parks, they know now.

After listening to more than a dozen city residents speak in support of various city park projects, councilors decided they wanted to think a little more about what to do with the mayor’s proposed $160 million capital budget. The main thorns in the councilors' sides are an $8 million Westside soccer complex and a $6.5 million lagoon for wading at Tingley Beach. Mayor Martin Chavez dropped needed repairs to existing parks and eliminated promised new parks but added these two projects to the capital budget.

“We don’t want to create parks that the city will not be able to maintain in the future.”

Councilor Debbie O’Malley

“The residents of Albuquerque are crying out for their parks,” Councilor Brad Winter said after listening to people of all ages speak in support of reinstating funding for their neighborhood parks.

One resident said there are already 113 soccer fields on the Westside and questioned the need for another, especially when much-needed new neighborhood parks were going to be cut.

Councilor Trudy Jones said she had no faith in the Tingley Beach project. In the early days of the original Tingley Beach there was a similar pond for waders and swimmers. The proposed lagoon would be about two-and-a-half feet deep.

“The residents of Albuquerque are crying out for their parks.”

Councilor Brad Winter

Councilor Michael Cadigan did not try to hide his disgust with the Tingley proposal and blasted the idea, calling it a waste of money.

Jones pointed out that the city is sitting on a big chunk of money—that $160 million capital outlay budget—and called it “our own stimulus package.”

Councilor Debbie O’Malley summed up the issue when asking for a continuance, saying the Council needs a little more time. She said it cannot fund everything and has a due diligence to make the right decisions in spending the public’s money, now and in the future.

“We don’t want to create parks that the city will not be able to maintain in the future,” O’Malley said. The issue will be back April 6.

Code Blue

Councilors did not breathe life back into Cadigan's bill to limit the administrative expenses of nonprofit groups with city contracts. The measure would have set the amount at 20 percent. The city’s Finance Committee recommended the measure be rejected. In a 5-3 vote, the Council agreed. Councilors Jones and Winter sided with Cadigan.

The Place

The Daskalos family’s large commercial/residential venture called The Place at Nob Hill sits on a city block between Tulane and Wellesley on the north side Central. The $16 million project, when finished, will be Nob Hill's largest multiuse development.

There are about two dozen high-end condos and 30,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor facing Central. Rumor has it Boba Tea Company and American Apparel were considering the location.

The development was given the green light to build garages and a trash compactor on the north side of the property. One of the adjacent neighbors contested the decision.

The Future of the KiMo

Keshet has some state money to spend; the dance company is looking to partner with the city to operate the KiMo and lease the Freed Building next door. But the Council sent Keshet back to the drawing board. Councilors told the dance company to come up with an understandable business plan first.

Keshet representatives said one of their goals is to promote more frequent community use of the grand old theater. Some councilors asked for a legal opinion on giving Keshet the proposed sole source contract without allowing other groups to bid for it.

The city's Cultural Services Department runs the KiMo. Chief Administrative Officer Ed Adams and Cultural Services Director Ray Darnell spoke in favor of giving the contract to Keshet.

Most of the Council said this sounds like a great public-private partnership if all the bugs are worked out.

Send your comments about the City Council to carolyn@alibi.com.

 

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