The state will fund ABQ pools, parks and community centers
Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque’s community centers, parks and recreation areas are among the biggest winners in this year’s state infrastructure spending bill, with lawmakers earmarking millions for swimming pools, wading pools and modernizing museums in New Mexico’s largest city.
But state leaders haven’t invested much money in Albuquerque’s long-awaited homeless shelter and services center, and have also left the city’s demand for affordable housing largely unmet. .
The capital expenditure bill passed by the Legislature includes approximately $58 million for projects in the City of Albuquerque. The legislation’s largest allocation to the city is $10.6 million for road and pedestrian improvements in the Old Town and Sawmill area.
Overall, this is a “very significant investment in the city,” Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael said at a news conference Friday, citing the 5.3 million allocated for the third phase of the Westgate Community Center, $3 million for the city’s planned Community Safety Department. headquarters in southeast Albuquerque, $2.2 million for the park and community center in South San Jose, and money for various roadway improvements.
On the recreation front, they’ve invested $3.9 million in the planned North Domingo Baca Park pool (though the project remains $15-20 million short of total funding), $1 million to build West Side wading pools, $925,000 to upgrade the Montgomery Pool and $725,000 to redesign Los Altos Park.
The bill also includes $970,000 for pickleball facilities at the Manzano Mesa Multi-Generational Center and an additional $125,000 for west side pickleball facilities.
As passed, the bill provides the city with more money for pickleball than it does for building affordable housing ($455,000) and the Gateway Center homeless shelter and services ($421,757 $) combined.
The city had requested $30 million for the Gateway Center and $25 million to build (or acquire and rehabilitate) affordable housing.
Keller called the lack of support for those priorities disappointing, but not entirely surprising. A former state senator, Keller said lawmakers tend to focus on hyperlocality, especially during election years.
“People want to invest money in their neighborhoods, and that’s very natural and normal in an election year, so there’s not a lot of desire to fund something that might be outside of your neighborhood,” he said, adding that the city sees the Center Gateway as a project of metropolitan significance.
Lawmakers have included money for housing and homelessness initiatives in the overall state budget bill, though it is not specific to Albuquerque.
The capital spending bill is now on hold with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has until March 9 to act on it. She cannot add expenses, but has the power to veto certain items before signing it.
The state has contributed to the Gateway Center in the past, including $3.9 million last year.