ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The grand opening of a long-awaited community center in southwest Albuquerque has been delayed because of a fire, and it doesn’t appear to be an accident. City Councilor Klarissa Pena says from the damage, it appears someone broke into the Westgate Community Center Sunday afternoon and tried to start small fires around the building.
“The entryway, the main concourse the main hallway, classroom, a couple of closets they attempted to start fires in two other locations but some of the significant damage is in one of the main classrooms,” Pena says.
The city broke ground on the first phase of the community center in July of last year. The 35,000-square community center is located on De Vargas Road on the west side. Phase one of the project includes a fitness room, game room, and a computer area. The center will also have a gym and two head-start classrooms.
Pena says they were hoping to open in time for summer programs but the damage will set them back. “We were so excited that we were probably going to be having our grand opening in June and then yesterday, again on Mother’s Day, we have somebody come in and destroy such a valuable asset in our community. Something that was going to be available for summer programming,” Pena says.
Councilor Pena is asking anyone in the area that might have video or surveillance footage to come forward and submit the video to 505-242-COPS. The city has not yet assessed the cost of the damage but says insurance will cover the repairs. Albuquerque Fire Rescue is investigating, but they have not determined if it was accidental or intentional.