ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A fire at Albuquerque Public Schools’ storage yard on Thursday could be a sign of a bigger problem the district is seeing at the site.
The storage yard, which is used to hold old portables and metal ramps, is becoming a little too inviting.
“I would say over the last two years, there’s been an increase in issues,” said Chief Operations Officer at APS Scott Elder.
In addition to the fire on Thursday, people are breaking into the property and leaving trash and needles.
“So, we’ve had issues with the homeless breaking in to use those portables for a place to stay, and other things,” Elder said. “Everybody’s struggling to deal with this really, crisis, that the city’s facing.”
Elder said the district does what it can to protect the portables like putting up fences and sending APS police officers to pick up trash and monitor the yard.
“We send our police down at least three times week,” Elder said.
The district has even talked with non-profit organizations about them buying the portables and taking them to use as shelters for those who need it.
“We’re here to support that kind of initiative because it’s beneficial to the community and it’s beneficial to us,” Elder said.
The problem is that the portables can’t be given away. Legally, the district has to auction off the portables since they’re state property. Elder said the cost of a portable isn’t so expensive, but permit fees needed to transport it can add up.
“If I could get rid of all of them tomorrow, I’d be happy to do it. I really would, because they’re not doing us any good. The neighbors don’t want them there. We understand,” said Elder.
Neighbors said they don’t see the yard as a security concern but do want more communication from the district on what’s happening at the yard.
“Nothing has been shared with the neighborhood,” Lauren Kahn said.
“But certainly if somebody came in and lit fires or something, that’s something we’d want to know about,” Hunter Ten Broeck said.
“We’re a school district. We should be focusing on educating kids and putting money into classrooms. And here we are putting resources in to protect property. It’s state property, we have to protect it, and the neighbors down there expect us to maintain as best we can,” Elder said.
The district said it’s seeing more success recently in selling the portables. Since it moved to an online auction system last year, it’s sold 40 of the portables.
The district will have to pay a couple thousand for each of the three portables damaged in the fire on Thursday.
To look at the auctioned portables, click here.