A small post-eclipse crowd greeted city councilors at their Aug. 21 regular meeting. With no red-hot topics, councilors trekked through an easy agenda that included a new innovative public lighting plan, a halt to some road construction and grant dollars for senior citizen projects.
Albuquerque will be the first US city to engage with an innovative, extensive overall lighting master plan. Citelum US was given a 15-year, multi-million dollar contract to transform the city’s public lighting infrastructure into a more efficient, dark sky-friendly, LED enhanced model. The company is based in Paris and touts cities like Paris, Venice, Prague and Madrid—and now the Duke City—as clients. Jean-Christophe Florenson, a French-accented Citelum representative gave an informative presentation about a demonstration project the company did in the Martineztown area.
But, not all the streetlights in the city will be covered by the plan because the city owns about half, or about 19,000, high pressure sodium or mercury vapor street lights used in the metro area, while the others are owned by the Public Service Company of New Mexico. Council President Isaac Benton said he saw the Martineztown demo and it is a very impressive lighting system. “It is not always about just putting up a pole,” Benton said.
During the administration question and answer segment, this reporter was expecting some tough questions for Police Chief Gorden Eden regarding the recent report released by the Federal court appointed monitor Dr. James Ginger. Ginger’s latest report continues to point fingers at uncooperative brass but also concluded that the police department is meeting the minimum requirements of the court ordered decree—facts not mentioned at the meeting.
Councilor Diane Gibson then asked the Council to look into some discolored and bowed ceiling tiles at a recently acquired, city-managed facility.
Councilor Ken Sanchez asked when the Request for Proposals would be going out for the community cable management contract. Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry replied that city administrators are working on it and it should “hit the streets” within 30 to 45 days. Perry said the current contract holder was given a six-month extension at the end of the fiscal year. Sanchez then queried Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan, asking, “... In regards to that three letter word A-R-T?” Riordan said the Central rapid transit project was ahead of schedule by a few months and will be completed before the end of the year. “A possible Thanksgiving present for the community,” Riordan gravely intoned.
Councilors approved halting the second phase of a major Westside road project along Irving. Phase one has been completed from La Paz to Unser. The second phase would widen Irving between Unser and Eagle Ranch, but several residents spoke out in favor of stopping the project for further review of “significant issues” that will take several years to resolve. Several residents spoke out in favor of halting the project due to safety, lower property values, lack of notification and other concerns.
The city accepted grant allocations for the Department of Senior Affairs. A total of $286,298 was appropriated through a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department for the city’s Department of Senior Affairs and the Senior Companion Program. According to the Council, in 2010 there were 207,179 persons over the age of 50 living in Bernalillo County. That number has risen with aging baby boomers seemingly everywhere, the municipal governance team agreed.
It’s a good thing to get involved and to influence local politics. One way to do that is to take a seat on the city’s many boards and commissions. These fine folks did just that and were appointed to the following civic oversight groups: Larry Hindman, Paul Bernier and Dana Lehner were appointed to the Municipal Golf Advisory Board; Geoffrey Zehnder and Rachel Hertzman are now members of the Transit Advisory Board; Blayne Greiner will serve on the Indicators of Progress Commission; Ivan Pineda-Dominguez will sit with the Youth Advisory Council; Michael Renaud now serves on the Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council; Matt W. Guthrie was appointed to a term on the Balloon Fiesta Park Commission; Lee Ratzlaff is now a member of the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee; Linda Castagneri was appointed to the Library Advisory Board; and Scott Steffen is now a member of the Technical Standard Committee.
In the last edition of Council Watch (Vol. 26, i32) we reported that the Council had approved, without discussion, the many items on the meeting’s consent agenda. This included an item to set up a policy for an outside process for investigating officer involved shootings and other in-custody deaths. The resolution was not approved, as it had been withdrawn prior to the meeting; therefore it was not approved as part of the consent agenda.