SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Most people would jump at the chance to acquire free land in Santa Fe. But when a developer offered a chunk of prime land to the city to expand a park — he says the city turned him down. 

The Frank Ortiz dog park in Santa Fe stretches more than 100 acres. Carlos Garcia is a developer who owns property next door. He shares, “Over the years I realized that many people use it as part of the dog park and friends of the dog park have expressed to me that desire to keep it.”

He wanted to gift that land, which sits about a mile away from the plaza, to the city — to add to the park as development creeps into the area. “We attempted to do this two years ago and the city was not in a position to accept the donation at that time,” Garcia said. 

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According to the city of Santa Fe it would have cost money to stabilize those six acres of land and the legislation never went anywhere. Now there are ropes and signs blocking access to the trail because Garcia was planning on building houses there since the city didn’t take the land donation. People who use the park, like Karla Harby, are worried about losing the land, “To lose a whole 6 acres is not trivial at all and what’s more it’s a beautiful and heavily used part of the park,” she said.

Some say they don’t like the thought of homes going up here. Maria Johnson says, “I’d be absolutely heartbroken. I think a lot of people would feel utterly heartbroken. It doesn’t bear thinking about,” Johnson shared. 

Garcia heard the concerns and now the offer’s back on. “I’ve been speaking to friends of the dog park and they really have a strong desire to keep it as is and I am open and willing to donate the property for that purpose.”

Backers of the idea want their city councilors to listen up too. “We need people to tell their elected representatives that this is what they want, we need to save this dark park, we need to save this property,” says Harby.

The mayor’s office and Parks and Rec declined to do interviews on this story. In a statement, the city said accepting the land is not in the best interests of taxpayers.