Early February’s cold snap left Albuquerque in a state of disaster, according to a resolution passed by the City Council at its Wednesday, Feb. 23 meeting. The measure will allow Mayor Richard Berry to request aid from state and federal agencies in covering costs. Water pipes burst, causing extensive damage to public and private property. The city’s tab is more than $1 million in overtime and damage to buildings.
Several members from the city's Copwatch attended the meeting to make an appeal about Albuquerque Police Department policies. Adriann Barboa, director of Young Women United, outlined the group’s requests, which include: an end to race- and class-based profiling; no more shoot-to-kill; mandatory crisis intervention training for all officers; a youth voice on the city’s Police Oversight Commission; and more authority for the commission so it can fire and discipline officers.
City Attorney Rob Perry was unanimously approved to switch desks and become chief administrative officer in light of David Campbell’s coming March departure. The administration will launch a search for a new city attorney.
Christmas Came EarlyThe 2011 bond package was on the table for approval by the Council. It totals $164 million and will go in front of city voters in October. If they give it a thumbs-up, it will not increase taxes. The package passed unanimously but still needs approval from Mayor Richard Berry.
The Council amended the bond package over the last few weeks. It includes $3.5 million for a new library at Central and Unser; $1.5 million for a new library in the International District; $41 million for street improvements; $14.65 million for parks and recreation; $10.1 million for public safety projects; $1.2 for animal welfare; $2.8 million for a Westside sports complex; and many other public necessities.
There are so many good projects in the new bond package that it’s hard not to feel like a kid at Christmas. Every councilor gets $1 million to spend in his or her district. Some of my favorites are $1 million each for penguin and insectarium exhibits at the BioPark; $500,000 for Warehouse 508, the Downtown teen center; and $10 million for affordable housing.
A Cultural JewelCouncilors considered adding a section to the Westside Strategic Plan for the mostly undeveloped Volcano Mesa Area. The amendment addresses new policies guiding land use and development, as well as open space and transportation. Most public comments seemed in favor of the measure. The area has been the subject of several building moratoriums and lawsuits since the ’80s.
Councilors were particularly concerned with the treatment of arroyos, rock outcroppings and archeological sites. The city’s planning staff assured them that the amendment protects the environment. The Council also wanted to make sure land use and transportation policies were well-thought out and included neighborhood activity centers, public transit and a network of bicycle paths. Councilor Dan Lewis agreed the area was a cultural jewel that should be protected and said the amendment is just the beginning of setting up the guidelines for open space. It passed unanimously.
Volcano Cliffs is tucked between the petroglyphs and the volcanos on the city’s far Westside. The landscape in the 3,400-acre area is among the most unique and fragile in the country. To me, the entire area is one big archeological wonder speckled with sacred Native American sites. It belongs to no single person, but to our collective culture and history. Still, people have bought up parcels of the land. The amendment seems to take into account the protection of the important features while allowing property owners to use their land. But only time will tell if it’s enough.