These are the kinds of things that kept the Albuquerque City Council busy throughout its 3-plus hour Oct. 17 meeting: garbage, more stop lights, another rapid transit bus station and equipping police officers to better deal with our opiate overdose epidemic.
City Councilors unanimously said Mayor Richard Berry and his administration will have to get a zone change if they want to add a 75,000 square foot solid waste transfer station at the intersection of Edith and Comanche. The administration says the city needs this transfer station because of the large amount of trash generated by city residents. Adding this station would allow unloading at an indoor, state-of-the-art station instead of at the remote West Mesa landfill. The plan would save time and fuel by cutting the number of costly trips city garbage trucks now take to the landfill. The city also says that the transfer station is allowed under the current M-1 or “light manufacturing” zoning, and there is no need for a special use zone change. This type of M-1 zoning allows for things such as a soft drink bottling plant, product assembly and storage-type facilities. An SU zone change would require a public hearing where the city would have to prove the transfer station will not harm the neighbors. Members of the Greater Gardner Neighborhood Association, where the station would be located, have hired an attorney to fight the project. They say that about 100 garbage trucks are projected to be driving about 225 round trips through their neighborhood every day. Along with associated fears of vermin, potential hazardous waste and noise, this is harmful to the neighborhood, the association says. Councilor Diane Gibson summed it up for the Council when she said residents can’t compare bottling soft drinks with a garbage transfer station’s potential for truck traffic, odors, vermin, bugs and mice.
Our city police officers could soon be able to carry naloxone, brand name Narcan, a medicine that can quickly reverse opioid overdoses. The Council passed a resolution that puts in place a process to establish training and policy for officers to carry naloxone. APD officers are often the first responders to overdose scenes, arriving even before medical units. Albuquerque would join a number of other state law enforcement agencies, such as Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, who already have naloxone protocols in place. The Council did not give the okay to train other municipal employees and stock naloxone in about 100 city facilities such as community centers, transportation hubs, the zoo and the Sunport. This resolution will be back on the table as city attorneys said there will likely be liability issues to consider before implementing naloxone availability on a wider scale. There were 402 deaths in New Mexico from opioid overdoses 2014, which places our state 28th in the nation for such sad statistics.
Councilors gave the okay to build an additional Albuquerque Rapid Transit loading station in the historic EDo area. This brings the number of stations to 20 along the 10-mile stretch of Central from Coors to Louisiana. Drivers beware: Major construction began this week along Central.
In an effort to slow down speeders along the Downtown feeder avenues Lead and Coal, the Council approved new stop lights along both one-way streets at Walter. One resident who lives on Walter spoke out about how Edith was a more appropriate street for the stop lights. Although city traffic administrators said that lights at those locations were not needed, the Council disagreed, saying something needs to be done about speeders. They approved installing new traffic control devices at the aforementioned corner and will monitor the results through the end of the year.
Councilor Brad Winter was excited to sponsor the first Martin Luther King Jr. Indoor Track Meet at the Albuquerque Convention Center’s Mondo oval track in January 2017. This event will be part of the USA Track and Field 2017 Masters Indoor Championships set to hit the city in March. This prestigious meet was held here two years ago. In all the city has hosted about 19 track and field meets and or championships. Councilor Winter is a track and field enthusiast who still competes in pole vaulting events. The facility at the Convention Center is top notch.
A measure was introduced for a special city election to be held at the same time as the Albuquerque Public Schools election next year, on Feb. 7, 2017. A couple of councilors want to place a question before voters that has to do with increasing the amount of funding for mayoral candidates who use public campaign financing. This agenda item will be revisited at the next meeting.