On April 17, the Albuquerque City Council unanimously approved a $200 million infrastructure bond package that will be placed on November 7 municipal ballot for voter approval. The approval of the bond package took more time than usual as the city councilors went back and forth on various projects reducing and adding to the bond package. Also on the November 7 ballot will be the election of the 4 even numbered City Council District seats of 2,4,6 and 8.
THE GIVE AND TAKE OF COMPROMISE
Final council votes were taken on diverse projects such as city swimming pools, flood control projects, animal shelter rehabilitation projects, the new Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter, the Albuquerque and Unser Museums, and APD facilities, the rail yard development and new road ways. Projects that the Keller Administration initially requested and then were removed were again restored.
The Gibson Health Hub and the Albuquerque Museum’s planned education center were two such projects that were initially removed and then restored by the council. The council restored $5 million for the future Gateway Center homeless shelter. The council also put back $2.5 million of the $3.25 million the Keller Administration had sought for the Albuquerque Museum education center.
What has been revealed is that the renovations of the old Gibson Lovelace Medical Center into the new Gateway Homeless Shelter is now a $73 million project inside the old Lovelace hospital. It was on April 6, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller officially announced the city had bought the massive 572,000 square-foot building that has a 201-bed capacity, for $15 million. Keller announced that the massive facility would be transformed into the Gateway Center Homeless Shelter. Interior demolition and remodeling has been going on months to prepare the facility for a homeless shelter which has yet to open. Recently, asbestos was found during the renovations and asbestos removal has delayed the project further.
During the April 17 bond package debate, Council President Pat Davis questioned the Keller administration about the Gibson Health Hub. Davis wanted to put the $5 million in Gibson money toward boosting the infrastructure package’s $7.5 million affordable housing allocation. Davis said it was important so people would have an exit path out of the homeless shelter and services hub. Davis said this:
“We don’t have housing [for them]. We’re not doing those on parallel tracks, and I think that’s my concern”.
Davis ended up voting to restore the $5 million for Gibson after finding no council support.
The city councilors removed some bond funding for the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department but still maintained over $21 million for public safety projects. The council deleted all $1.7 million it planned to allocate for new city buses because the Transit Department has millions of dollars already set aside for bus purchases.
The City Council reduced the amount of “set-aside” money each city councilor gets for the small projects they identify in their individual districts. Initially, the Council wanted $2 million in set aside funding for each council district or $18 million total. The Keller Administration proposed reducing that to $1 million each or $9 million total. The council ultimately decided on $1.3 million per District or $11.7 Million total.
BREAKDOWN OF BOND PACKAGE APPROVED
The largest portion of the city bond package approved by the city council for voter approval is for $43.9 million in roadway upgrades. The specific roadway projects include the following:
■ $7 million total for a series of West Side roadways: Paseo del Norte, Unser and McMahon
■ $2 million for the University/Lomas intersection
■ $2 million for citywide Americans With Disabilities Act sidewalk improvements
■ $2 million for citywide street lighting projects
■ $1 million for Alameda/Barstow
The city council also voted to place on the November 7 bond ballot the following:
■ $5 million for a series of flood control projects in Southeast Albuquerque
■ $5 million for the North Domingo Baca pool planned for the Northeast Heights
■ $4.9 million for Little League field rehabilitation
■ $4 million to move the Unser Museum — currently a nonprofit in Los Ranchos — into the city
■ $4 million for the Westgate Community Center
■ $3.2 million for library materials
■ $3 million for the Cibola Loop Multigenerational Center in Northwest Albuquerque
■ $2.5 million to renovate the city’s animal shelters
■ $2 million for the Rail Yards redevelopment
The link to the quoted news source is here:
CITY ANNOUNCES FUNDING SECURED IN 2023 NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE SESSION
On April 7, declaring “We got more funding than we have ever gotten before” Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to announce the funding the city had secured from the New Mexico 2023 legislative session. In all, Albuquerque was allocated $100 million in state funding for some high priority projects. The funding can be broken into three categories: public safety, housing and homelessness, and cultural improvements.
The funding highlights Keller announced included the following:
Southeast Area APD facilities $1,500,000
Southwest Public Safety Center -$2,985,000
Coronado Park Fire Rescue Training and Response Center $5,225,000
Westside & Eastside Animal Shelters – $1,480,000
Regarding the $5.5 million that will go toward a new fire rescue training and response center at Coronado Park, was in August of last year that Keller closed down Coronado Park as the city’s de facto homeless encampment where upwards of 150 homeless would camp each night. The camp was closed because of violent crime and ground contamination.
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
Gateway Center, medical respite facility, sobering center and first responder drop-off – $9,926,490 According to Keller, the $10 million will allow the city to finish out phase one of the project and will allow the design for phase two
Construction of affordable housing – $6,460,810*
Albuquerque Youth Shelter – $1,558,490
Preschool facility construction for families experiencing homelessness – $1,356,490
$1.5 million for a youth homeless shelter.
$1.96 million will go to the redevelop of the now-vacant Walmart on San Mateo and Central. Walmart wants to take six months to try and sell it, then the city can step in and buy it. Keller claimed the city will take the next six months, look at the funding the has , work with the community and come up with a proposal.
Facilities for youth programs – $1,091,490
Albuquerque Museum Education Center – $1,440,000
Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum – $2,223,114
Performing Arts and Education Center -$2,900,000
Alameda Pedestrian Trail – $3,000,000
Balloon Fiesta Park landing sites and improvements – $7,315,000
North Domingo Baca Aquatics Center – $6,165,000
The link to the quoted news source is here:
COMMENATARY AND ANALYSIS
$300 million in combined funding for major projects is not too shabby by any means. Now it up to the voters to approve the $200 million in bonds come November 7 and if history is any indication, the funding will be approved.
What is really staggering is the revelation that the Gibson Lovelace Medical Center renovations into the new Gateway Homeless Shelter is now a $73 million project yet nothing is said by the Keller Administration where that money has come from.