Students from the UNM Architecture Graduate Program will be showing 3-D models of a new performing arts center concept for downtown ABQ this Saturday. Seven different designs for a new performing arts and commercial center—“Orchestra Place”—will be presented by third-year students of UNM's School of Architecture and Planning, as part of their final projects. The center, which is still in the concept stage, is planned to be located between Third and Fourth Street and Roma and Marquette, where a parking lot currently stands. Planners say the new home for the New Mexico Philharmonic, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop and other local performing arts organizations will include a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat recital hall, an education center, office space for performing arts organizations, luxury apartments, commercial space and a hotel targeted at conference attendees. They say “Orchestra Place”—which is already drawing endorsements—would revitalize Downtown, giving residents and visitors an entertainment destination while creating opportunities for economic growth in the surrounding area. The seven student designs that will be on display this Saturday will include models, site plans and elevations. The special presentation happens this Saturday in the lobby of Popejoy Hall at 3pm in conjunction with a New Mexico Philharmonic concert that will start at 6pm. Tickets can be purchased at unmtickets.com.
Officials Seek Public Comment on Wildlife Restoration Projects
Trustees of the New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee (ONRT) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reached a settlement with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and its associated companies for wildlife and wildlife habitat injuries caused by hazardous substances released from the three copper mining facilities owned by FMI near Silver City—the Chino, Cobre, and Tyrone Mines. A number of proposed wildlife and wildlife habitat restoration projects which were evaluated after an informational meeting was held in Silver City in October of 2015, reopened the selection process—which had originally been issued in 2013—because some of the proposed projects were unable to be completed for various reasons and others were deemed to be less of a priority. The trustees are asking for public comment on the contents of the Draft Addendum to the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (found online at onrt.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/fmidraftaddendum.pdf), which describes the evaluation of the existing proposals and the newly proposed projects. Written comments may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments must be submitted in writing to Ms. Trais Kliphuis, Executive Director, New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee. Public comment period is open until Dec. 28 at 4pm.
Backlog of Untested Sexual Assault Evidence Kits to be Audited
The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) is conducting a statewide audit of the inventory of untested sexual assault evidence kits. N.M. State Auditor Tim Keller announced last week that the OSA will be conducting a state-wide survey of all law enforcement agencies regarding their handling of what are commonly referred to as “rape kits.” The OSA will also be conducting a special audit, which will be more intensive, for certain agencies following the identification of over 5,000 untested kits last year. The special audit will be outlining best practices in the hopes of clearing up the backlog. The audit will take place this summer and the results will be made available to the public.