Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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City Council Watch: Build It and They Will Come


City leaders debated a future soccer event center, arroyo and ditch safety and a new tax district at their August 16 regular Albuquerque City Council meeting.

Kick It To Me

Councilors approved sending a $50 million tax revenue bond resolution to the Burque voters to fund a multi-use stadium. The vote went down 7-2 with Councilors Trudy Jones and Brook Bassan voting against it. Councilor Isaac Benton amended the bill with a clause to execute a “community benefits agreement” with whichever neighborhood is chosen to ensure their voices and needs are heard.

The proposed stadium is mainly intended for the United New Mexico soccer team and its fans but could be used for other sporting or community events. 

The question will now go to the voters on Nov. 2. This is a gross receipts tax revenue bond proposal, so taxes will not be raised and it will not take away from other programs, according to the city.

It's tough to be one of the deciders. But in this case, they had lots of information, because councilors saw a detailed presentation of a study done to see where a future stadium should be built. The city hired consultants to come up with a feasibility study for a multi-use soccer stadium. The group, CAA ICON, recommended a 10,000- to 12,000-seat venue that would cost between $64 million and $70 million to build, not including any property purchases. There are a couple primary sites on the table, one at Coal and Broadway and one at Second Street and Iron—along with some talk about the Rail Yards and Twelfth Street and Interstate 40.

There was quite a bit of public comment, as well as about two hours of debate. Most of the speakers were in support of the stadium. One of the best public commenters of the night was a young person who said that New Mexico United means the world to her and many other people, and the team needs a better place to play. Another resolution directing the city to look at other stadium site options on the West Side failed on a 3 to 6 vote.

Tax Us Please

Councilors approved setting up a South University of New Mexico Campus Tax Increment Development District to help spur infrastructure in the area. This TIDD is an endeavor between Lobo Development and the City of Albuquerque. It is intended to create a tax district for the UNM South Campus area to generate gross receipts and property taxes that will to go toward basic infrastructure needs. This includes an expansion of the Science and Technology Park for more research and development space. Plans call for many quality-of-life enhancements such as parks, plazas and walking trails. This is a unique area, as the 312 acres of land is publicly owned by either UNM or the city.

Don’t Float Away

Four people have died by being washed away by arroyo floodwaters this year. Councilors approved $30,000 in seed money to set up a task force to look at ways to warn people of flash floods along with the 100-mile network of arroyos and ditches crisscrossing the metro area. A warning system that uses sirens to alert people in and near an arroyo is being proposed. This type of on-the-ground warning system is being used in other cities successfully. 

In the metro area, homeless often gather under bridges and in and around the concrete flood-control ditch network. Even under a blue sky, floodwaters can come from storms many miles away. According to the Albuquerque Fire Department, when someone gets swept up in arroyo floodwaters about 80 first responders with about 30 pieces of equipment are sent out to about 10 different locations along the drainage system to try to catch the body as it is being swept away.

The Ditch and Water Safety Task Force is composed of representatives from the city, Bernalillo County, AMAFCA (who are the flood control people), Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the state Department of Transportation.

Step On Up

Seems there was a stampede of people wanting to do their civic duty by volunteering on one of the city’s boards and commissions. This meeting gave approval to: Brian White to the Cable Franchise and Hearing Board; Patrick Stewart to the Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Board; Jude Quintana and Nadine Buerger to the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board; Sandra McCarell, Gabriel S. Pacyniak, James Povijua and Mayane Barudin to the Albuquerque Energy Council; Larry Hinojos, Jr. to the Human Rights Board; Jack Emmons to the Accountability in Government Oversight Committee; Damon Maddox to the Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission; Frances Armijo to the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Development Committee; Philip Snyder to the Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board; Kristin Abdill to the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; Elena Gonzales to the Affordable Housing Committee; Felipe Rael to the Affordable Housing Committee; Uche Ohiri to the Human Rights Board; Victoriano Ceballos to the Albuquerque Energy Council and Charlotte Schoenmann to the Arts Board.

Down The Road

Councilors deferred a whole bunch of items including moving forward with providing free bus fares for all riders. A memorial in support of the efforts being made by all local law enforcement agencies and the courts to reduce recidivism was deferred. Several budget items were postponed, and approval of the Candelaria Nature Preserve Resource Management Plan was put off as well. Most of these will be back on the table at the Sept. 8 meeting or some other meeting down the line.

The next meeting of the City Council is set for a Zoom meeting at 5pm, Wednesday, Sept. 8 (due to Labor Day). Watch it at GOV-TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16 or on the city’s YouTube channel. 


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