During the Jan. 22 Albuquerque City Council meeting, one could almost see the spirit of Councilor Ken Sanchez present as the local body politic took care of city business during the first meeting of 2020.
Councilor Sanchez died on New Year’s Day at the age of 63. He had been elected as a city councilor in 2005. His district takes in most of the area west of the Rio Grande and between Central and Montaño. Several people spoke in kindness about Sanchez’ commitment to all Burqueños.
To honor Sanchez, Councilors named Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Station 7, located at 57th Street and Central Avenue, the Ken Sanchez Fire Station 7. His daughter Jaclyn Sanchez-Zamora said this was a good way to honor Sanchez as he worked to get the funding for this fire station. “First responders were so important to him,” she said. Councilor Klarissa Peña summed it up with by saying that “everybody loved Ken.”
Newly elected Councilor Brook Bassan took her seat to represent District 4 in the far Northeast Heights. Bassan took retired Councilor Brad Winter’s seat after a contentious run-off election. Bassan is a native Burqueña who graduated from Sandia Prep. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. According to her city website bio, her mother’s side of the family are the peeps who own Capo’s Italian Restaurants and her dad’s family owns a scaffolding company. She says she is focused on forming coalitions within the city government to reduce crime and promote high-paying jobs.
Councilor Pat Davis was unanimously elected as Council President, taking the gavel from Councilor Klarissa Peña. Councilor Diane Gibson took on the vice-president position and Councilor Isaac Benton took the reins to be Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Other council committee appointments were approved and can be found on the individual councilor’s city web pages at cabq.gov.
City Councilors approved $125 million for California based Kairos Power to build a 32-acre nuclear reactor engineering campus at Mesa del Sol. According to Kairos’ website, the company was founded to accelerate the development of an innovative nuclear technology that has the potential to transform the global energy landscape.
The bucks come from the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds and various pots of economic development money. Kairos must repay the bonds and will get about a half-million dollar tax abatement. The company says there will be about 67 people employed, with some of those relocating from California, with an average salary of $100,000.
The council approved a total of $500,000 in economic development funding for Faneuil, Inc., a Virginia-based customer service center. The company operates outsourced business processing programs, customer care, innovative solutions and back office support for government and commercial clients. They plan on hiring 700 local people to pull this off. According to the company’s website, customer service employee pay is about $13 per hour while a supervisor earns $16.50 hourly. The city bucks will go towards leasing its location in The 25 Way business area.
• An executive request to fund substance use treatment voucher contractors that exceed $75,000. The money goes to substance abuse treatment centers that provide health services. There is about $1.4 million in this pot of money and a city administrator said they are reaching out to more youth treatment centers to apply for money to help cover costs for those who need assistance to treatment services.
• An award of $600,000 to Intera Geoscience and Engineering Solutions for “City Rail Yards Environmental Cleanup” to monitor, remediate and control contamination at the City Rail Yards. The city entered into a voluntary remediation agreement with the State of New Mexico Environment Department for cleanup of contamination present at the City Rail Yards.
• Hiring Sam Sterling Architecture as the consultant for the new Heritage Farm at the Albuquerque BioPark. Heritage Farm is slated to cost $9.5 million to build with about $700,000 for the planning. It will be an interactive, friendly place for citizens to learn where our food comes from and to showcase sustainable farming practices.
• Sided with our local land protectors by allowing for a full hearing before the final approval of a zone change for a 16-acre development at Paseo del Norte and Kimmick near the beautiful Petroglyph National Monument. The developer is asking for a zone change to allow a little more intensive development than what is currently in place. The Land Use Hearing Officer recommended approving the zone change.
• Councilors did not approve withdrawing collection attempts of any fees and costs associated with lawsuits relating to the city police department’s investigation of the death of high-profile attorney Mary Han. Han was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her home in 2010. The investigation completed by the Albuquerque Police Department was grossly flawed in our opinion. City administrators said their decision was not about the merits of the case, it was about caretaking of public money. The city was awarded $5,000 in attorney fees when the federal claims were dismissed. Councilor Gibson, who sponsored the measure, said she brought the measure forth out of respect for Mary Han’s family.