Homeless take over neighborhood park two years after major renovation


The City of Albuquerque gave Martineztown-Santa Barbara Park a major makeover from top to bottom after neighbors fought for it for years. Now neighbors say a group of people have trashed it.

“We waited for quite a long time,” Rosalie Martinez said. “It was a lot of hard work.”

It hasn’t even been two years since all that hard work paid off and the people in the Martineztown neighborhood got what they always wanted: A newly renovated park.

Neighbors cut the ribbon on the park back in October 2016.

“We were very proud of it,” Loretta Naranjo Lopez said. So proud in fact that for the first time in years, neighbors were holding social events at the little park below the church.    

“We had an Easter egg hunt. We had neighborhood night out…” Naranjo Lopez said. 

That’s not the case anymore. Neighbors said over the last few months, Santa Barbara Park has been taken over by the homeless.

“They use the restroom there. They use tents. They’re using and selling drugs,” Martinez said.

“People are putting up their sheets up as if it’s their home,” Naranjo Lopez said. “We’re finding needles and trash all over the park.”

Last week, a man had all of his belongings scattered on both tables. His clothes were hung on the fences. KRQE News 13 cameras also caught another person passed out mid-day in a sleeping bag on the grass.

“Why even have it if we can’t enjoy it?”  Naranjo Lopez said. “We’re afraid to even send our kids over there.”

Martinez said her son is there almost every day cleaning up what the homeless leave behind. She said it’s gotten so bad the city has already replaced the tops of the tables and some of the playground equipment.

“It’s our park, the neighborhood park, and they’re destroying it.” Martinez said. 

The city said it’s well aware of the issues. A city spokesperson for the Parks and Recreation Department said it’s looking at a number of options to increase security at parks, including additional lighting, fencing, cameras and patrols.

Parks and Rec did not say if Martineztown-Santa Barbara Park is one of the priorities.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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