Nob Hill neighbors want vacant church cleaned-up and put to good use

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Neighbors said an abandoned church in Nob Hill has become a nuisance, but the problem is that the owner is not around to maintain it because he's accused of killing someone there.

Martha Hardman said a lot of her childhood memories take her back to the old Trinity Methodist Church.

"It was like having a bunch of aunts and uncles and grandparents," she said. "When my family moved here in 1960, my mother was a church-going woman. She was looking for a church nearby."

The church is located on Silver Avenue off Solano Drive in Nob Hill.

"Eventually the congregation got older, died out, moved away," Hardman said.

The vacant property now belongs to Chris Pino. Neighbors said it's been abandoned for years.

"Sadly, it's become a magnet for indigent people," Mark Witt said. "Vandalism, fires, sometimes you hear screaming and fighting and all sorts of things going on."

In 2017, Albuquerque Police responded to 27 disturbance calls at the church. In the last two months, officers have responded to eight calls.

"My mother would be so heartbroken," Hartman said. "I'm so heartbroken."

Last April, Pino, who is a well-known Albuquerque realtor, was charged with second-degree murder. Police said he used his Hummer to run over a homeless man in the parking lot of the church, killing him. Pino claimed the man was breaking into his property and stealing from him.

Neighbors said they want something to be done, but don't want the church to be torn down.

"If I had a ton of money I would buy it and turn it into a performance space," Hardman said.

"Maybe a private school or something, a community outreach of some sort," Witt said.

Last week, the city sent workers to board up the property so that no one can get in. Pino hasn't been around as he awaits trial because according to his conditions of release, he's not allowed to return to the scene of the alleged crime.

Last week, the city also sent Pino a formal notice regarding the condition of the property. He has until March to secure the property himself, or the city can take the measures to place a lien on it.


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