ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly a year after the closure of Coronado Park, city officials say firefighters will take over the property made infamous by a continued homeless encampment. Over the next two or more years, the city says it will build a new Special Operations Center at the park site, which will be used by Albuquerque Fire Rescue.
City leaders unveiled details about the planned $15-million project during a news conference Tuesday. Once it’s finished, the revamped property will see a new fire station, storage areas, training and classroom space for firefighters.
“We’ll have a fire station that responds to 911 calls, 24-7, housed here,” said AFR Chief Emily Jaramillo. “Then, our [special operations] programs will all be moved down here.”
The city says it will also work with the Wells Park Neighborhood Association to create a public space at the upcoming fire facility. That space will remain within the control of AFR.
“We are excited to get a new fire station in the area, I think it’s been a long time coming and it will be a real benefit to the neighborhood,” said Doreen McKnight, president of the Wells Parks Neighborhood Association. “We look forward to working with the city on planning and designing part of this space to still be a public amenity.”
Coronado Park has sat fenced off and idle since August 2022 when the city closed it to the public. Weeks before its closure, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the park had become a center for “organized trafficking of narcotics” among other problems.
In a January 6 news conference, Mayor Tim Keller announced the idea of building a public safety training facility on the Coronado Park site, while requesting $20-million in state funding for the project. Since then, the city has amassed several different funding sources for the project.
State capital outlay records show lawmakers granted $5.22-million for the project. At Tuesday’s news conference, city officials are also hoping for another $8-million for the project from the 2023 general obligation bond funds expected on the November ballot. The city is also asking for a $2-million earmark in federal funding for it.
According to a news release, city officials say new funding for the project is allowing for “planning and development” to move forward first. The project is expected to be addressed in phases. Over the next several months, Keller described the city getting started on “the sort of external façade transition” at the park site.
“There’s a public safety need for this facility, and that is what the state recognized and why they funded it,” Keller said, answering a question about other ideas on how to used the park site. “The other ideas were wonderful community assets, but I think, we’ll always take literally supporting the operations of hazmat and heavy rescue over a new amenity, playground or something to that affect, especially when we have a new park down the street.”
That new park is a planned expansion and renovation of Wells Park near Sixth and Rosemont, approximately a 15 minute walk, or 3/4 mile walk from Coronado Park. That project, on land known as “the Walker Property,” has been under development for more than two years. The Walker Property has been vacant for over 16 years.
Albuquerque Fire officials also said Tuesday they plan to relocate elements of the Coronado Skate Park to another part of the city. The adjacent dog park is slated to remain unchanged and open to the public.
This is a developing news story. This post will be updated.