Councilor: pump our millions into parks, not ABQ the Plan

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque city councilor is moving forward with what could be a big blow to one of Mayor Berry’s pet projects.

What would happen to “ABQ the Plan” if Councilor Diane Gibson gets her way? Gibson wants to pull millions dedicated to changes along the Rio Grande and pump it into parks.

“To just all of a sudden sweep it over into something else certainly will not sit well with us,” Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño said.

“ABQ the Plan” has been a focus of the mayor’s office for several years.

Among the ideas, create a sprawling area along the Rio Grande with more activities and amenities. It’s something the City Council set aside funding for the project two and a half years ago.

“Its (sic) river improvements that will keep the bosque healthy and help us enjoy it for day to day life,” Montaño said.

Now, City Councilor Diane Gibson wants to pull money for the river project and put it someplace else. “In light of our current economic condition and the current status of our parks, that $3 million is really needed,” Gibson said.

She is taking her idea to the City Council chambers, pointing to an audit last year showing 59 percent of parks in the Duke City had “obvious maintenance needs.” “We have 291 parks in Albuquerque and many of those parks have gone without substantial improvements for many, many years,” Gibson said.

In the meantime, News 13 has learned there’s $30 million in the bank for city parks. The catch? That’s money that can only be used to build new parks, not keep up the existing ones.

Montaño says better management can take care of the maintenance problem instead of moving money from “ABQ the Plan”. “The mayor has taken proactive attempts through technology and better staffing, better man power.”

Gibson says she’d like to see the city cool off with building new parks, including making changes along the Rio Grande. She says the parks department is understaffed and can’t afford to take on more work.

Gibson’s resolution will be discussed at the council’s finance committee meeting tonight. From there, it could go on to the full council for further consideration.

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