Alibi V.21 No.4 • Jan 26-Feb 1, 2012 

Council Watch

A No-Bike Road

Topping the Albuquerque City Council wish list for the 2012 legislative session is $46 million for reconstruction of the Paseo del Norte and I-25 interchange. The City Council approved the list at its meeting on Jan. 18.

The Council’s also seeking:

• Continued funding of Medicaid and other social net programs

• Money for schools, drug treatment, and spay and neuter programs

• Support for the film industry

The Council again deferred approval of a contract for the city’s Independent Review Officer William Deaton, who handles complaints about the Albuquerque Police Department. This controversial item has been deferred several times.

Bicyclists spoke out about the first-ever bike ban on a 3,000-foot stretch of Chappell between Osuna and Singer. Signs stating "no bicycles" went up in early January. The city says that stretch is too dangerous for cycling. Jennifer Buntz, president of the Duke City Wheelman Foundation, spoke along with a couple of other bicyclists. They said this is an unnecessary rule put in place because the city is placating a few truck drivers who don’t want to share the road.

The next meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.

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Issue Council's Take Reporter's Take
Gas Pipe

Up for approval was a $1.7 million contract to build a pipeline for methane gas from the Cerro Colorado Landfill to the Metropolitan Detention Center’s boiler room. SCS Field Services from Long Beach, Calif., would do the work. It is estimated the project could save about $26,000 each year at the Westside lockup, where the methane would be used to heat water. As it stands, the landfill gas goes unused and is being burned off with a flare.
The Council gave a unanimous thumbs up to the project. Not all of the $1.7 million is coming from city coffers. The federal Environmental Protection Agency pitched in a $495,000 grant. Bernalillo County will add about $319,000, and the city will contribute roughly $908,000 from its Solid Waste Management Department capital project fund. The city's also considering expanding the pipeline to a glass-recycling kiln at the landfill. Like the city’s Solid Waste Director Jill Holbert said, the pipeline turns a negative into a positive. This is a step in the right direction for implementing energy-saving infrastructure and waste reduction. If the gas can fuel a correctional facility, maybe it can help fuel a recycling plant, too.
For the Birds

Councilors considered giving the Southwestern willow flycatcher, a bird on the endangered species list, some protected space. The project would create 10 acres of willow-dominated habitat and a 10-acre buffer of riverside vegetation in the Bosque near La Orilla Outfall.
The unanimous approval was quick and quiet late in the meeting. The resolution is an agreement between the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and the Open Space Division. The Water Authority will pay up to about $206,000 for the work done to create the habitat. The area where the Southwestern willow flycatcher hangs out is a relatively barren section of the Bosque. It's bordered by Montaño on the south, the river on the east, the Corrales Riverside Drain on the west and La Orilla drain on the north. It's a good idea to say goodbye to non-native plants and hello to a willow swale surrounded by shrubs where lots of feathered friends can take up residence.
To the Streets

A little more than half a million dollars of federal grant money was up for approval to continue the efforts of Nils Rosenbaum. He's a psychiatrist who works with the police department’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team, which provides psychiatric services to homeless people, folks who’ve done jail time and others. The team assesses and helps some of the city’s most marginalized citizens.
Councilors unanimously approved the funding but not without a couple of questions. Councilors Don Harris and Ken Sanchez took issue with Rosenbaum’s pay. City staff said the funds were appropriated through two grants, and no city money was being used. Councilors Isaac Benton, Rey Garduño and Trudy Jones praised the efforts of the team. Benton said in his Downtown district, the program is critical. "This is for every part of the city," said Jones, whose district is in the Northeast Heights. COAST has been nationally recognized. Rosenbaum said he goes to the streets in order to gain the trust of people who need his services the most. This is a vital outreach team that makes a real difference and helps build a healthy community.