ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s been a longstanding battle over shade along Central Ave- near the ABQ Biopark Botanical Garden. Six years after the city ripped out trees for the ART project, one city councilor’s effort to replace them took an unexpected turn.

Councilor Isaac Benton voiced his disappointment in an Albuquerque City Council meeting earlier this year over what got planted near the aquarium. “Okay, well then I want my 100 thousand dollars back because I have some projects that could really use it, because street trees was the point,” Benton said during a City Council meeting earlier this year.

Benton asked the city to put in trees along the north side of the Central Ave. sidewalk and even used $100,000 of his own council funds to pay for it sometime this year. However, instead of the proposed trees, the city mostly put in smaller ground-level plants. “We’ve planted a lot of native pollinators, trees, shrubs, and cactus here,” said Brandon Gibson, deputy director of the Arts & Culture Department.

The city said they limited the amount of trees to twelve, after finding difficulties getting irrigation to the area, and after traffic engineers raised concerns about driver sight lines. “Some of the challenges is the existing infrastructure,” Gibson explained.

However, Councilor Benton has shown frustration, saying the city never told him about the shift in plans until the project was complete. “I was not informed of any of this, so I was shocked when I saw that there was no work being done on that median,” said Benton during a June City Council meeting.

Since that meeting, councilors recently passed a new plan, to spend a quarter of a million dollars on more trees for the area. “There’s a strong plan to be able to move the irrigation, the sidewalk, the fencing where needed to accommodate these street trees,” Gibson explained.

The city expects to see the first new trees go in by Spring. Until then, they say more construction is needed in the area.