After the long, depressing and dangerous decline in Coronado Park, the neighbors of Los Altos Park cannot be blamed for wanting to prevent an actual oasis of relaxation from becoming a cesspool.
Albuquerque city councils unfortunately cast a vote last week to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto on a regulation banning alcohol in Los Altos, with the exception of special events with city permits. Park neighbor Debbie Conger asked the council at its December 20 meeting to ban open alcohol containers and the sale of alcohol. It undoubtedly speaks for neighbors who want a clean, safe, and family-friendly park. The city already bans drinking in almost all parks, except on special occasions.
Outgoing councilor Diane Gibson had spoken out in favor of new restrictions in Los Altos Park, highlighting long-standing public safety challenges and concerns from neighbors. There are homeless camps, deadly shootings, knife fights and a fatal hit and run at the nearby skate park.
But Keller remained silent about the alcohol suggestion and concentrated his veto on a small, literal turf battle with Gibson over where to put a warehouse for the security guards’ electric carts. This should have been worked out, not as a justification for allowing drunk people to continue ravaging the place and intimidating law-abiding residents.
The city announced on Wednesday that it would hire ten more security guards to deter unsafe activity and vandalism in numerous city parks. That’s the right approach, even if Los Altos and the skate park aren’t on the list. As the mayor said in the announcement, “Everyone in our city deserves safe, accessible outdoor spaces.”
That includes the 32-acre Los Altos – especially when you consider it is currently undergoing a $ 30 million conversion that includes new softball fields, a pedestrian promenade, a BMX pump track, and more. When it’s done, it could be a gem of town with its indoor pool, tennis courts, lighted softball fields, and nearby skate park for BMX bikes, skateboards, and inline skates.
Conger isn’t giving up, and neither are her neighbors or city councilors who stood up for her and tried to override Keller – Gibson, Isaac Benton, Brook Bassan, Pat Davis and Trudy Jones should put people before politics. Alcohol and all too often the following activities have no place in our parks where our children play. Ditto for drugs. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other places in town where people get drunk and get high outdoors.
The city invests too much in Los Altos to be a place families don’t feel safe. Albuquerque has failed residents who live nearby and want to take advantage of Coronado Park – now a de facto tent city full of trash and needles. It cannot repeat this mistake at Los Altos. The city council, which had four new members in January, should take up the issue as soon as possible with a majority with a veto.
This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the authors.