The fourth of June brought in a sparse crowd for a short two-hour Albuquerque City Council regular meeting where more golf entertainment options and respect for bicycle lanes got some attention.
Topgolf didn’t get a hole in one, but it did get on the green. Councilors unanimously approved a resolution showing their support for the international entertainment chain to bring their clubs to town. Topgolf is proposing a more than $40 million golf-themed entertainment venue at the former Beach Waterpark located at Montaño Road and Interstate 25. This 23-acre eyesore has been vacant since 2004 when the waterpark was drained.
Topgolf wants to build a three story, netted driving range with 72 climate-controlled hitting bays, full service restaurant and bars, hundreds of high definition televisions, rooftop terrace with a fire pit, event and meeting rooms, golf lessons and more. The company says the golf entertainment business expects to generate about $15 million in annual taxable gross receipts and have a payroll of up to $4.5 million.
The golf company got the support of the City Council by way of a resolution. But the real bill, giving the company over $2.6 million from various city coffers, got deferred until all the players can come back to the table to finish negotiations.
Mayor Tim Keller and his administration said they have some issues with the sweet deal being offered to this big company—especially while many of our own small, home-grown businesses are struggling, notably along Central Avenue in conjunction with the failing Albuquerque Rapid Transit route. The 350 or so proposed jobs are primarily low-wage, part-time jobs and consequently, Topgolf does not qualify as an economic-based company providing exports and higher wage jobs. “We are always going to stand behind what we consider to be our core economic platform of supporting locally grown businesses,” Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said.
The idea was popular among the public speakers except for one regular cranky guy who said it was a wasteful idea. The bill giving the company the green—light and bucks—will be on the June 18 meeting agenda.
A newly enacted amendment to the city’s traffic code brings some safety and clarity to the city’s bicycle lane usage. Presently no parking in bicycle lanes is only enforced if there are signs posted. This amendment says that whether or not there are signs declaring no parking in the bike lanes, no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle unless in an emergency.
“This brings some clarity,” Benton said. “A bicycle lane is a travel lane and it is not in the best interest of the public to be parked upon.” He went on to mention a well-traveled Campus Boulevard between Carlisle and Girard in Nob Hill where there are signs giving the greenlight to both parking and a bicycle lane. “Which one is it,” he said.
Councilor Diane Gibson said this is the right thing to do. But she said this will be kind of painful for her mid-Heights district where residents are encouraged to park along the streets to help slow down traffic.
City staff said the enforcement changes are supported by the city’s police and other departments as well the city’s bicycle advisory boards. Enforcement will not go into effect for six months to give everyone time to find new parking spots.
An agreement regarding a state funded project in coordination with CSI Aviation, Inc., was approved—with the assurance that no direct city funds will be used as the arm of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The project is a pass-through project, which means the economic development money comes from the state and the city will act as the fiduciary agent. The project includes the renovation of the old Eclipse airport hangar for the passenger, medical and cargo aviation transportation company. CSI got the thumbs up in 2017 to build a new hangar, but since that project changed to the renovation of a more than 36,000 square foot hangar, the company had to come back to the Council table for approval.
The company’s website says they do contract work with various government agencies. It has been reported that CSI has a fat contract with ICE that expires in July. Councilor Pat Davis asked CAO Sarita Nair if city staff did their due diligence—checking whether this joint business effort will be in violation of the city’s immigration friendly action that says no direct city support or funds may be used to support or facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Nair said, yes they did do their work and CSI has assured them, verbally and in email writing, that they do not have the federal immigration contract in question any longer. Additionally, CSI will not do anything to specifically violate the city’s immigrant friendly resolution.
• Much of the agenda was given some shade until next week, including approval of the Topgolf proposal, giving appropriating money to the Mariachi Spectacular and funding for a city housing project for those with behavioral health issues.
• Shout-outs were given to members of Albuquerque Pride in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, to the local Optimist Club and in recognition of CPR and AED Awareness week.
• Joseph M. Cruz and Robert G. Stetson took seats on the Environmental Planning Commission.
• Under the radar on the Council’s consent agenda, Councilors declared several properties around town as non-essential, clearing the way to sell them—including the problematic Kimo Park at San Mateo and Cutler. Over the years it has become a homeless camp.