memorial to the West Mesa murder victims were unveiled to the public recently by the Albuquerque parks department. In 2009, a woman walking her dog found the first bone that lead to the discovery of the bodies of 11 young women and 1 unborn baby buried on the edge of a West Mesa subdivision. Family members said at the public dedication that they want it to be a place people come to sit and think about the young women who were daughters, sisters and mothers, not things to be thrown into the dirt.
The 2 acre memorial will be built at 118th and Amole Mesa SW. Currently weather worn wood crosses stand at the location as a testament to the lives cut brutally short. There have been no arrests, no solid suspects and police believe they were all killed by a serial killer between 2003 and 2005. Most of the women had battled substance abuse, lived on and off the streets and been involved in prostitution. The victim’s families have been tireless advocates for not only the memorial but for the continuation of the investigation, but hope fades with each passing day. According to the police department, the case has no person of interest.
Burque’s City Council held a short meeting on Sept. 18 but it didn’t have a lot of business to handle, probably due to the Oct. 3 municipal election where there are 5 council seats up for grabs.
Councilors proclaimed September as recovery month recognizing all aspects of the struggle with all types of addiction. A related event was held Sept. 28 celebrating what organizers said something some folks deemed impossible—
Innovate ABQ got $1 million from a federal economic development grant to start renovations to its First Baptist Church building located at the Central and Broadway seven-acre campus. This is a matching grant so that means there is $2 million to spend. Restoring the old brick church building is the second phase of the plan and this money will be used for a new science lab core and shell. It will cost more than $15 million to renovate the entire 71,000 square foot former house of worship. This upgrade will join the University of New Mexico’s Lobo Rainforest, a new six-story building on the north side that houses classrooms, student dorms, office spaces, a UNM tech agency and an Air Force research lab as Innovate ABQ projects. Innovate ABQ is a collaboration between the city, Bernalillo County and other private entities to support local entrepreneurs.
The council’s land use, planning and zoning committee which is made up of 5 city council members postponed sending a substantial rewrite of Burque’s zoning code to the full council for approval at its meeting held Sept. 27. The Integrated Development Ordinance is aimed at consolidating and streamlining the zoning code, reducing it from 1,200 different zones to less than 20. Numerous groups have been addressing the city on problems they see with undertaking such a massive overhaul all at once. The city administration would like folks to go the city’s planning website to look up their individual addresses, see the IDO map and what changes are proposed.
In its effort to recognize the devastating local and national substance abuse problem, the Bernalillo county commission filed a lawsuit against the big pharma companies who make prescription pain medication. Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins says opioid addiction and overdoses are a public health crises—prescription pills are the main reason Bernalillo County is at the top of the list for overdose rates in the country. The county joins more than 30 states, cities and counties including the State of New Mexico and Mora county in taking a stand against the big pharma pumping pills into our communities. In July the associated press reported that the number of overdose deaths in New Mexico in 2016 had risen to 497 cases.
The county has made a promise to renovate their new digs at Alvarado Square in a responsible manner. Alvarado Square is located south of Central on Silver. It formerly housed Public Service of New Mexico employees. They left in 2012 and the county bought the building for $2.7 million. The approximately 283,000 square foot building needs nearly $40 million in renovations, hence the commission's resolution to do it in a sustainable, energy efficient and economically sound manner.