ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A little more than a month before the 2019 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the city is revealing what’s been upgraded and what other projects are on the horizon for Balloon Fiesta Park.
Over the course of this year, the city stands to net up to $8-million for use on construction projects at Balloon Fiesta Park.
State lawmakers approved $7.5 million for the city of Albuquerque to spend on “park access”-related projects. Later this year, voters will decide on a ballot question that could generate $500,000 in bond funds for Balloon Fiesta Park projects.
“We have a world-class facility here at Balloon Fiesta Park,” said David Simon, director of the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department.
The city is far from finished with building out Balloon Fiesta Park. Last year, the Kiwanis Club built and donated a new shade structure at the park, which the city has lined with benches. Crews also built two fire pits at the newly built Sid Cutter Pilot’s Pavillion.
“We have a lot of other things on our to-do list,” said Simon. “It’s very important that we have the facilities to take care of all of those people at peak times.”
This year, vendors should notice one of the newest upgrades where their tents are usually set up. The city spent $335,000 to upgrade the water lines along “Vendor Row,” an upgrade that’s critical for food sales.
“It should be better service and more reliable service,” said Simon. “We’ve been concentrating on some infrastructure improvements and some things behind the scenes are essential to make (Fiesta) possible.”
Simon says Fiesta-goers may also notice a series of new solar panels on top of the Golf and Events Center. The city also expected to dedicate a new plaque to late-KRQE pilot reporter Bob Martin, who flew SkyNews 13 over the Fiesta for many years.
The city is going to try to add more bathrooms to the park for the 2019 Fiesta. Meanwhile, they have their eyes on upgrading the current on-site bathrooms soon.
“Replacing and improving some of our restrooms though is very high on our list,” said Simon.
The biggest upgrades may come in the next two years for Fiesta’s 50th anniversary. Along with electrical upgrades, the city is talking about building permanent structures for vendors.
“A dramatically improved vendor row facility that will match the significance of this great event,” said Simon.
So far, the city hasn’t received the $7.5 million granted to them by the state legislature. While the city hasn’t made a full determination on where the money will be spent, the funds earmarked for park access improvements are expected to be directed toward an upgraded “park and ride” system, or an I-25 “slip ramp” first.
“Those funds have not yet been made available to the city for expenditure, but they will be soon, and we’ll begin to be able to start working on some very impactful and game-changing projects for improvements access and transportation to the park,” said Simon.
Fiesta-goers can also expect to see more general parking in areas that are normally reserved. The city says it will start using the old Los Angeles landfill site for up to 1,000 general parking spaces. Those spaces will sit alongside the RVs that normally park on the landfill for Fiesta.
Another addition at the park may help open the Sid Cutter Pilot’s Pavillon to more off-Fiesta use in the future. The city is adding at least one new maintenance position to the park. With the extra labor, the city believes it may be able to rent the event center out up to an additional 25 days each year.