ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s an important part of the city that is crucial to the economy.
It’s also a major part of the mayor’s revitalization plans. But local business owners say it is under attack by vandals and vagrants, who are destroying one of the gems of the city.
The owner of the Olympia Cafe across from UNM is fighting a losing battle.
“To replace it that’s hundreds of dollars. I had a quote of sanding it down and for everything it’s about $600 bucks,” said Olympia Café owner Khalil Akkad.
Vandals are not just spray painting his business. They are etching his front windows in a way that can’t be repaired.
To replace all his windows costs thousands of dollars. He replaced them once, but they were etched again.
Busines owners up and down Central are suffering the same attacks.
“The mayor takes crime, vandalism property crime serious in any part of the city,” said Mayor Berry’s Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano.
The mayor’s chief of staff says the Route 66 corridor and Nob Hill are priorities for the mayor. He points to the success of the Summer Fest program that drew 45,000 people to the area, and plans for a bus rapid transit line for Central Avenue.
The mayor is also proud of the city’s response to vandalism.
“One of our most successful departments is the graffiti removal team. I think you can call the graffiti team in the morning and literally by afternoon it’s cleaned up,” Montano said.
KRQE News 13 found city workers along Central busy spraying away the vandalism from the night before.
But business owners say the problem, including panhandlers and the homeless living in nearby parks and alleys, is getting worse by the day.
Khalil Akkad would spend the thousands of dollars to, once again, replace his windows if he could trust the fix would last.
The mayor’s staff encourages people to report vandalism and other quality of life problems by calling police or 311.