Lynn Wilson is an 83-year-old retiree from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He is a graduate of the University of Colorado with post graduate work in psychology. Mr. Wilson spent 30 years at LANL in human resources. He has been married for 63 years to Bonnie and the couple have 2 children and 2 grandchildren, all residents of New Mexico. Lynn Wilson was a founder of a crises intervention center and he was a daily volunteer for that organization. He particularly loves the out-of-doors and his hobbies include skiing, including being an active member of the National Ski Patrol, hiking, backpacking and golf. He does not consider himself to be a political activist. He and his wife are current residents adjacent to the Singing Arrow Park which they use daily for exercise and walking. Lynn Wilson submitted the below guest column for publication on this blog.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Lynn Wilson and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com and Mr. Wilson was not compensated for the column).
“Mayor Keller’s using the coronavirus to proceed with funded city construction projects will certainly lead to some great pic-ops. Assuring citizens that he has a handle on the city’s operational budget raises huge red flags. Commerce is in the toilet. Gross receipt taxes way down. Tourists travel is dead. The state’s shutdown duration is unknown. On-going drought heightens area fire danger and threatens the silvery minnow. The extent of business failures and recovery time are unknown. Any federal fiscal help won’t be available to bail out the city operational expenses. Relying on a beleaguered state to restore the city’s reserve operating funds in 2021 is pure folly. So how will the city recover financially? Increasing the gross receipts tax by the city council for a second time in two years no doubt will be in the cards.
Mayor Keller’s inclusion of a new Singing Arrow Community Center for the purpose of creating construction jobs during the coronavirus to spur the economy is wrong on several levels:
The Singing Arrow Community center, comprising 3 portables, play area, half size outdoor basketball court and 45 parking spaces was expected to be temporary. In 2011 and 2013, voters approved a general obligation bond explicitly to fix long unaddressed maintenance problems and improve the facility or to replace the existing center.
City Councilor Don Harris chose to repurpose the money for a second center 140 yards east from the existing center opining the park was underutilized. The purchase of the vacant 100 vehicle park-and-ride lot, the city bus hub on Wenonah, and free park land resulted in his decision to place a new community center at the east end of Singing Arrow Park. The only program scheduled for the new center is the before-and-after school program currently being served by the existing center.
Parks and Recreation’s stated goal in selecting building sites for new facilities is to allow for potential expansion of facilities as determined by future needs. The selected center location abuts existing archaeological sites limiting the facility’s placement and size.
Additionally, the selected site creates three serious issues for center users:
FIRST: Accessing the center from the bus terminal requires crossing Wenonah. Frequently there are as many as 4 buses, 3 on Wenonah and an ART bus at the corner of Tramway and Wenonah blocking visibility (pedestrian killed in 2019).
SECOND: The busiest times for vehicle traffic to and from the proposed center will be 7 to 8 am and 5 to 6 pm, the same as commuter traffic, and there are no turn lanes on Wenonah.
THIRD: It will be inconvenient for a parent having one child in child day care in the existing facility and another in before/after school program in the new facility.
What is lost if the proposed facility is built on the east side of the park is disastrous and something Councilor Harris apparently could not care less about as he refuses to listen to his constituents. Among the things that will be lost and contribute to the areas’ quality of life include:
A significant amount of the park’s irreplaceable green space;
A place to escape the built-up urban environment;
A place for unstructured play;
An area large enough for flying kites and drones;
Room and space for an increasing number of exercising seniors and dog walkers; Room for a large number of people to gather;
The unity of the Singing Arrow community.
Mayor Tim Keller has announced that the City is now faced with a serious deficit of at least $27 million dollars and the deficit will probably be much higher with another major recession in the city’s future. Keller and his Chief Financial Officer have said that the city may be forced to furlough or lay off city workers because of the deficit. The new Singing Arrow Community Center once completed will require 18 additional city employees to staff the facility, positions that are not likely to be created and funded.
Singing Arrow Neighborhood Association elected a new president at the 2018 annual meeting because the president was not representing a majority of the members. The ousted president disrupted the meeting so much that APD had to be called. Don Harris vilified the Association for having an illegal election because of the use of proxies. That ex-president still acts as an spokesman for Harris and has formed his own unrecognized neighborhood association further dividing the community.
Harris has accused those who oppose the building of a new community center in the park as selfish, rich retirees. There has been little maintenance done in the east end of the park since those who oppose the construction live in the immediate area.
The one person who benefits the most by building at the east end of the Singing Arrow Park is City Councilor Don Harris so he can stroke his ego and have his name placed on a dedication plaque to satisfy it.
Mayor Tim Keller needs to put a stop to the new Singing Arrow Community Center and he has the authority to stop its construction. The voters of the Singing Arrow community will be far more appreciative of a Mayor who listens to their concerns and desires because their own City Councilor Don Harris acts on his own behalf and ignores them.”
For Related Dinelli Blog Articles that outline the voting record of Don Harris See: