The Albuquerque zoo parking lot became a maze Friday for drivers searching for a spot, and who eventually spilled into nearby residential streets.
The city said there’s a holdup on building a new parking garage that was supposed to help fix the parking problem.
“[It] took us about 20 minutes probably,” George Gallegos of Las Vegas said about trying to find a parking spot on Friday.
“We drove around a couple of times and then we finally decided to go across to the park,” Kim Gallegos of Rio Rancho added.
With the anticipated opening of the Penguin Chill exhibit this summer, it will be even tougher to find parking.
“We do recognize that additional parking at the zoo is needed and we definitely look forward to addressing that need,” Tanya Lenti with the city’s Cultural Affairs Department said.
However, help to alleviate this headache for zoo visitors isn’t coming any time soon. The sales tax-funded Master Plan of BioPark projects lists a two-to-three-story parking structure to be built next to the zoo entrance.
“We need it,” Gonzales explained. That project was originally planned for last year.
“And we do look forward to addressing that. We just don’t have a timetable right now,” Lenti said.
That’s because the city says the Master Plan projects get moved around based on priority, with designing the Asia exhibit now topping the list. However, there will be construction in the parking lot this summer as part of Mayor Tim Keller’s big push for renewable energy.
“We are going to have mounted solar panels in our parking lot,” Lenti said.
Construction for the panels is already underway in the aquarium parking lot with the project expected to break ground at the zoo this May, during its busiest season.
“We’re very mindful of the current needs for additional parking, so we’re hoping to do it in a way that won’t have a big impact,” Lenti stated.
The BioPark tax is not paying for the solar panels. Instead, they’ll be funded by a federal program.
Meanwhile, KRQE News 13 asked about an update on the opening of the Penguin Chill exhibit. The city wouldn’t give a firm opening date, but says that experts are currently testing the climate control systems.