The city is partnering with neighbors to help fast-track some safety projects at neighborhood parks.
One park in northeast Albuquerque is set to get new fencing and upgraded lighting, while another park in the southeast part of town is set to get new parking lot gates.
While the work may not sound like too big a deal, the city says the projects are notable for how they’re getting done with neighborhood support.
“Working with our neighborhood associations and park neighbors, that makes a huge difference,” said David Simon, director for Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The first park project in northeast Albuquerque will target Morningside Park in Nob Hill.
“The neighbors here are very engaged,” said Nob Hill neighbor Curtis Bayer.
Bayer helped spearhead the upcoming park security improvements the city is now working to finalize at Morningside Park on Coal Avenue just west of Washington.
“You have a personal responsibility to get involved,” said Bayer.
Bayer says the neighborhood often finds used needles in Morningside Park.
“There’s a lot of heroin use,” said Bayer. “I have a collection probably now of maybe 40 needles that I’ve personally picked up.”
Bayer, who has a background in law enforcement, decided that instead of just complaining about the issue, he and his neighbors should team up to help take care of the park.
“I’ve always been a proponent of, don’t approach them with problems, approach them with solutions,” said Bayer.
That attitude got the city listening. After a few conversations listening to neighbors’ concerns and suggestions, the city decided it would invest in security upgrades at the park.
In the coming months, the city expected to install new fencing around the water pump houses at Morningside Park. The city is also looking at upgrading the lighting around the park to brighter LED lamps.
“We really want to work together with not only Nob Hill, but with every neighborhood in the city,” said Simon of the city’s Parks Department.
The second neighborhood driven project is already happening in southeast Albuquerque at U.S.S. Bullhead Memorial Park.
City Councilor Pat Davis oversees the area and says a lot of neighbors have taken issue with the amount of after-hours activity at the park.
“Their suggestion was, can the city put up some gates?” said Davis.
Davis says the Siesta Hills Neighborhood Association stepped up to the plate, with a promise to help look after the gates.
“Maybe our neighborhood watch can help by locking them at the right time, so the city doesn’t have to staff that,” said Davis.
The city recently installed a series of black metal posts and bollards at the park to prevent cars from parking in the park’s lots after-hours. Soon enough, the metal poles will get gates.
Neighbors like Curtis Bayer think more partnerships will make a big difference in people seeing a more immediate change at their local parks.
“We all have to make Albuquerque a little bit better,” said Bayer.