Santa Fe weed problem made worse during pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe has a weed problem, but the city said it’s because they don’t have enough people to get rid of them. Kristine Mihelcic, the acting director with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said since March, they’ve had to lay off and furlough much of their staff.

“The City of Santa Fe, like the entire nation and the world, is dealing with the global pandemic as well as an economic crisis. The City of Santa Fe does not have the temporary employees or the seasonal employees that it traditionally has, due to these economic constraints,” said Mihelcic.

There are currently six people taking care of the weeds throughout the City of Santa Fe. The department said they usually have 18 crew members. They had planned on hiring more people, but the pandemic hit and impacted their budget.

Even with the smaller team, the crew is still responsible for taking care of the same amount of work including maintaining the more than 77 parks and more than 500 medians in the city.

“They’re working crazy hours, they’re doing amazing jobs,” said Mihelcic. “What they are doing is phenomenal.” 

Crews work five days a week and start before sunrise to ensure they don’t block any traffic. Right now, their main focus is on the Zia and Rodeo Road areas.

Santa Fe’s Parks and Recreation Department said it’s currently reviewing its budget and hopes to end the furloughs by September 4.

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