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UNM Parking Structure That Will Impact Historic Neighborhoods

At the June 1, 2009 City Council meeting, District 3 City Councilor Isaac Benton will ask the Council to consider a resolution to require the University of New Mexico to participate in talks with the City and neighborhood representatives about the impacts of a proposed parking structure and health clinic that the university wants to build at the western edge of its main campus.

The facility would be located on Redondo Drive at Roma Ave., directly across the street from an historic neighborhood, Spruce Park, where residents are concerned about traffic and safety impacts of the proposed project.

“The University of New Mexico is not subject to the planning and zoning jurisdiction of the City of Albuquerque,” explained Councilor Benton, “and, unfortunately, that has led to oftentimes disjointed and potentially harmful planning and development efforts.”

The City of Albuquerque, however, has the ability to grant or deny changes to public infrastructure, such as curb cuts for turning lanes or vacation of public right-of-way, which may impact the university’s plans in this case. Benton’s bill is intended to encourage the university to come to the table with the City and affected neighbors to discuss and come to agreement about ways to mitigate negative impacts of development on surrounding neighborhoods.

“One of the reasons that residents are so concerned about the university’s plans is that they feel the university has not communicated well with them or made good-faith efforts to listen to their concerns and incorporate their suggestions into their plans,” said Benton. “This is an opportunity for the City to help facilitate discussions between UNM and the neighborhoods and, hopefully, end up with better plans and public facilities.”

Benton is no stranger to working with neighbors to fight university development plans. Since 2006, he and many others – including Lt. Governor Diane Denish and state legislators – have been involved in fighting the university’s proposals to develop the North Golf Course area and expand its medical campus.