City struggles to keep problem parks clean, asks public for help

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It’s a constant battle for the city: trying to keep parks clean.

Even after crews clean, the mess is back almost immediately. The Parks and Recreation Department says it’s doing all it can, but some help from neighborhoods would be welcomed.

Piles of needles lay scattered around Santa Barbara-Martineztown Park.

“I just think it’s messed up that people do it around here…there’s kids,” park visitor Michael Baldonado said.

Neighborhoods see it all the time at city parks across Albuquerque. Although the Parks and Recreation Department sends crews to clean the mess, days later it’s back.

“We are throwing this kitchen sink at some of these problems,” said Dave Simon, Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director. “We’re employing all types of potential solutions to address the impacts, from crime and homelessness and behavioral health issues.”

From adding more street lights and fencing to increasing police patrols, the city is trying to get the problem under control.

“It scares me,” local Faye Lucero said. “I mean at some particular moment in time there was probably somebody sitting there shooting up…what if we walked up on him?”

Lucero walks with her son and dog everyday through her Martineztown neighborhood, near Edith and I-40. But Tuesday, she was overcome with emotion when she came across a pile of needles.

“Who knows if what’s inside of there that can contaminate us or hurt us?” she said.

Parks and Recreation says it cleans all parks at least once a week, but the community has to help, too.

“The more positive activity we have at parks, the less negative activity we may have at parks,” Dave Simon said.

“I think the community should get together and do some thing,” Lucero said. “It would benefit everybody.”

The Albuquerque Police Department has also increased patrols at parks, but says it needs the public’s help to make police aware of any problems by calling 242-COPS, 311 or using the 311 app. 

APD also says it has started running operations at problem parks, such as needle pick-ups and helping the homeless get services they need to help deter crime.

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