UNM, county planning to revamp ‘barren fairways’ on North Golf Course

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A barren and nearly forgotten part of UNM’s North Golf Course could soon transform into an oasis overlooking downtown. 

UNM and Bernalillo County’s Open Space division are now in the process of planning out ideas to revamp the so-called “barren fairways” on the west side of the course. 

The old and currently unused part of the golf course is currently home to a few walking paths; however, the county sees potential in adding more amenities to the site that could potentially draw more use. 

Over the last seven years, UNM’s North Golf Course has seen a lot of improvements thanks to renewed funding from the New Mexico State Legislature and Bernalillo County. 

“People always say the course has never looked better,” said Maggie Hart Stebbins, a Bernalillo County Commissioner and neighbor to the course. 

Hart Stebbins, who grew up near the course, has played a significant role in helping ensure improvements at the course. Today, more than $3 million in state and county funds have been poured into the course. 

Those improvements include new irrigation, a pipeline that funnels reclaimed UNM Chiller Plant water to the course, added walking trails and newly planted trees. 

“One of the beauties of this space is that it is shady and green, all of these trees act as a way of taking the pollution from the interstate out of the air,” said Hart Stebbins. “It just serves as this oasis in the middle of the city.” 

Hart Stebbins is one of those now excited for the next step: a potential revamp of the “barren fairways.” 

“There’s potential,” said Hart Stebbins. 

With $410,000 in capital outlay funds from the state legislature, the county is now considering how to revamp the space that is directly west of UNM’s “Mind Institute.” 

So far, ideas include planting dozens of new trees, installing several benches, even building new short-range walking trails. 

“Just again, making it more accessible and more inviting to the public, while keeping it as a viable golf course,” said Hart Stebbins. 

Ideally, the barren fairways could soon become a major new park in the middle of the city. 

“That would be nice,” said Irene, who already uses the barren fairways area to walk during the day. “That actually sounds great, because I know some of the trails kind of veer off into the course itself.” 

The county is planning to hold more public meetings for the project, which they say hasn’t been finalized yet. There’s also no timetable yet on when the work might start, but they’re hoping it happens “soon.” 

UNM waters the 79-acre North Golf Course with reclaimed water from the University’s “Chiller Plant.” That plant pumps water throughout several UNM buildings as a way of cooling those buildings.  

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