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District 2 Newsletter - March 18, 2016

Legislation of Interest

  • ART Small Starts Grant R-16-24:  This resolution, accepting the $69 million federal grant for the ART, is on the agenda for our next Council meeting on Monday, March 21.  I am proposing an amendment, which will require that the project include improvements to sidewalks and street trees within District 2.  If that amendment passes, I will support the bill.  Read my full statement about ART online. 
  • Open Space Acquisition R-16-12: Over the past year, the Council has been taking a strong look at our Open Space system including its oversight and use of available resources.  This bill is part of that effort and is scheduled to be on Council’s agenda for the April 4 meeting, having received a recommendation of “Do Pass” from the LUPZ committee this week. 
    • I am quite aware of the unique beauty of the Northern Sand Dunes, although I have only flown over them in a small plane and not visited on the ground. I strongly support their protection as open space. The north Rio Puerco Escarpment is also a spectacular area  worthy of protection.  Here are the issues with either of those properties being an acquisition priority of the City of Albuquerque at this time:

      1. In comparison with the vicinity of the Petroglyphs National Monument, the sand dunes and escarpment are much less threatened by near-term development and are thus slated for acquisition in designated City development plans. The Petroglyph-area properties allow unauthorized access to significant anthropological resources near or within the Petroglyph National Monument. The sand dunes and Rio Puerco escarpment are not immediately threatened with development; in fact the dune formations would be costly to develop because of topographic and soil stability constraints and the noteworthy absence of any nearby public infrastructure necessary for development.
      2. The Petroglyphs-area properties are within the City,  a stones’ throw from Paseo del Norte, and have been understood for a long time to be threatened with development and to be a priority of Open Space.  It’s unlikely that the Northern Sand Dunes and Northern Escarpment areas will become part of the City within for foreseeable future – if ever.
      3. Bernalillo County is presently in land development negotiations with Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) on Santolina, the proposed new town.  WALH also owns the dunes and the escarpment and has another long-range development (Estrella) planned adjacent to them. Large-scale master plan entitlement processes, such as for a Santolina or Estrella scale project, routinely include the outright conveyance and dedication of open space assets to the public, at little or no cost to the public.  Thus Bernalillo County would appear better suited to negotiate acquisition of the sand dunes and the escarpment when they consider development agreements for the surrounding areas.  The County has its own Open Space GR tax and program.

      For these reasons, and because the City Council is ultimately responsible for the best use of Open Space funds for the betterment of the community, my legislation calls on us to realign our focus to properties within the City’s developed and developing areas.

Upcoming Events and Meetings

Community Announcements

Projects Updates

  • Projects List
  • Highland Park Renovation:  This project will bid for construction this spring with construction expected to begin by summer.
  • Rio Grande Boulevard Complete Street Concept Plan (south of I-40):  We continue to welcome input on this project.  If you were not able to attend the public meeting on March 10, or would like to review further, you may download the presentation at the project website.  
  • Sawmill/Wells Park Area Traffic Plan:  The consultant is designing proposed improvements to 12th Street between I-40 and Mountain Road, informed by many years of public meetings and studies, including the sector plan transportation amendments adopted last year.  A public meeting will be held to present the plan in late spring/early summer. 

Sincerely,
Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2

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