ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Residents in northeast Albuquerque are frustrated after they say PNM work trucks mowed down vegetation in their neighborhood park, and they say it still hasn’t been fixed.

“The park IS the neighborhood, so to speak. It’s where a lot of socialization for the neighborhood [happens] as we walk our dogs and visit and talk to each other,” says Paul Beck, who lives in the neighborhood.

Casa Grande Linear Park is a haven of greenery in the middle of the Comanche Foothills neighborhood. Running from Comanche to around Menaul parallel to Tramway, this park is prized by neighbors. However, this past winter, the landscape changed.

“PNM needed to upgrade the utilities in the neighborhood due to increased power demand,” Beck says. He says around late November, they brought heavy equipment and had to drill underground.

“In the process, with no respect to the fact that this was and still is a city park, [they] just drove right over the cactus and flattened all of the bushes. Disrupted all of the wildlife, and placed all of their utility lines,” Beck says. Neighbors say they contacted the city and PNM, to no avail.

“The park’s administration said they would do the best they could, perhaps some reseeding and things,” Beck says, but it’s been months since work concluded in February. What has grown back is minimal.

While some neighbors don’t mind the state of the park, others just want to see it restored.
“I personally don’t feel strongly about it. To me, it’s just more stuff that causes hay fever,” says Charlie Rienhardt.

“I’m kind of torn, I mean there’s a lot of tumbleweeds in here and I think that part will revegetate. I think they could come in and put some vegetation in,” says Kathleen Adam.

“We’d be just happy if they put some of that green fuzzy stuff with some of the seeds down to hold back the erosion from the wind and rain,” Beck says.

In a statement, the president of the Comanche Foothills Neighborhood Association Olga Melancon, also expressed her frustration:

“While we understand the upgrades needed to be done, these upgrades came at a cost to the natural beauty Linear Park offers Comanche Foothills residents and the community at large. The promise to repair any damage or disturbance caused during the upgrade of the electrical lines remains unseen months later. Beautiful cacti, chamisas, and other natural vegetation are gone from our park, and some residents have even been left with damage to their property – including us – a 4-inch hole that was drilled in our driveway, but was never properly filled, for example. We are kindly asking that they help us to restore Linear Park and that any damage caused to residents’ property be addressed.”

Olga Melancon, President, Comanche Foothills Neighborhood Association

KRQE News 13 reached out to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. They responded with the following statement:

“Parks and Recreation is aware of the damage at the park, which was caused by another company doing work in the area. The City is going to repair the damage and is in communication with the responsible parties.”

Additionally, KRQE News 13 reached out to PNM about the damage. They replied in a statement saying:

“The work was done by a contractor for PNM to replace an old underground cable. PNM has not received any claims about damage to vegetation in the park area. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will notify the contractor so they can assess the damage to determine if they caused it and if so, what repairs are necessary.”

Kai Porter, PNM Spokesperson

PNM also issued the following statement:

“The issue is that it had it been a PNM truck-our company would’ve had direct knowledge of the damage, and we would’ve taken steps to remedy it. The mis-reported story makes the assumption that PNM caused the damage and did nothing about.”

Ray Sandoval, Director of Corporate Communications for PNM

PNM hired and paid the contractor for the work.