Albuquerque park stays locked up due to safety concerns

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An Albuquerque park was only supposed to be closed for about a month for repairs. Eight months later, Lavaland Park off Coors and Central is still fenced up and some neighbors want it to stay that way.

Glass bottles, trash and clothing are strewn next to the gate that has closed off public access to the park since August after the neighborhood associations reported their safety concerns.

“You want a park that’s safe and not dirty and infested with needles, you know?” said Anthony Webb who lives near the park. “[There are] quite a bit of homeless around here. A lot of drug abuse, you know, and needles all over the place.”

“There was human feces throughout the sidewalks, there was needles throughout the park, in the sand areas where kids couldn’t see it,” City Council President Ken Sanchez said about the park before it was closed off.

The Parks and Recreation Department said the clean-up would take over a month.

“City parks spent about $124,000 to replace and fix some of the damage,” Director Peter Simon said. “We replaced some damaged playground equipment, resurfaced the whole play area, we installed some great new lighting and also gave the turf a little boost.”

Still, people might not be able to use it for a while.

“We have not received a single call from the neighborhood associations to reopen the park,” Sanchez added, saying he’ll continue to recommend the city keep the park closed until he can meet with neighbors, the mayor and the parks department to come up with a plan for it to stay clean and to keep troublemakers out. “I was not going to allow our kids and young families to be subjected to that kind of danger. And right now, I do not feel the park is safe.”

“We’re looking at a whole lot of options,” Simon said. “We want to do this in the smartest way possible to protect the investment that the city has made in this nice park and keep it safe and clean for generations to come.”

As of now, there’s no timetable for when the park will reopen. Sanchez and Simon will meet next week to start planning those meetings with the mayor’s office and neighborhood associations.

Sanchez said he would like to look at investing in more security cameras and the parks department also mentioned locking it up at night.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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