NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A group of metro residents has filed a lawsuit to keep the city from building on a popular open space. It comes after officials announced they were considering an education center at the Elena Gallegos Open Space in the Foothills.

A group of residents forming the nonprofit “Save the Elena Gallegos” has been fighting the proposal to build an education center in the open space. They said they’ve gathered more than 8,000 signatures on their petition.

They argue the space is more valuable to the community in its wild, natural state, allowing people to be immersed in the environment.

They also argue it could affect the scenic views and privacy of people living in the Foothill, as well as negatively affect wildlife.

“The Elena Gallegos could not be more perfect than it is in its natural state. It is a unique open space in the city. A building would not enhance the space; a building will only detract from it,” said Katrina Sanchez.

The group seeks a permanent ban on any construction in the space.

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In a statement Thursday, the City’s Parks and Rec. Department said the project is still in the public input phase as they complete further environmental studies.

The City will review the contents of the complaint. This project is still in the public input phase.  The Parks & Recreation Dept./Open Space Division is completing further environmental and engineering studies.  No final decisions have been made on whether the City will move forward with an environmental education facility, what that facility might specifically look like, or where it would be located.  The Open Space Division would not propose a project that we feel would unacceptably impact the Elena Gallegos Open Space and we will continue to advocate for increased access and social equity in environmental education.  As we move forward in the process, further public input opportunities will take place once studies are complete.

The City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department