Battle brews over Barelas neighborhood association claim

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A battle is brewing over the historic Albuquerque neighborhood that boasts the Railyards, the zoo and the well-known Barelas Coffee House.

Members of the Barelas community are attempting to find order as the City of Albuquerque says their neighborhood association has been taken from them by a neighboring association.

The City of Albuquerque says the Barelas Neighborhood Association lost its recognition in September 2015 when it failed to comply with the city’s “Neighborhood Association Recognition Ordinance.”

A few months after that is when Ron Casias, president of the new Silver-Platinum Downtown Neighborhood Association that sits to the north of Barelas, moved in.

“We applied to the City of Albuquerque and amended our bylaws to incorporate their boundaries,” Casias said. “And the reason we did that is because that way they have representation, they did not have representation before that.”

The City now recognizes one massive neighborhood association called the “Silver-Barelas Neighborhood Association.”

People KRQE News 13 spoke with in Barelas didn’t like the idea of the merger.

“First of all, who are they? Who’s this ‘platinum group’ anyway?” Ted Martinez asked.

“We all got to live by rules, and I understand that, but I don’t understand why a community that’s not part of [Barelas] would even care,” John Dunlap said.

“I think the Barelas community needs to come together and fight for it because it’s a historic thing,” Beverly Chavez said.

Which is exactly what Elisha Miranda-Pohl is trying to do as the new Barelas Neighborhood Association president.

“It was never anybody’s to give and we just want to move forward and do what’s right for the community,” Miranda-Pohl said.

She says what Casias did was unethical and inappropriate.

“We are defending what is ours, what has always been ours,” she said.

Casias said he is willing to negotiate only parts of the Barelas neighborhood back to the new Barelas group, not including the Railyards and Zoo. Pohl said she was insulted by that, and that all of the Barelas neighborhood is rightfully theirs to represent.

The city says in September 2015, the Barelas Neighborhood Association failed to comply with the following:

  • Officers of the association will annually submit a letter to the Office of Neighborhood Coordination attesting to the number of dues-paying members their records indicate for the previous year.  If an association has no dues-paying members, or if dues-paying membership does not adequately reflect an association’s size, its officers shall annually submit other evidence of the size of its active membership.
  • Furnish the names, addresses and available phone numbers of current neighborhood association officers and/or board members to the appropriate City Councilor and the Office of Neighborhood Coordination.
  • Evidence of an annual general membership meeting shall be sent to the City Office of Neighborhood Coordination within 60 days of the meeting.
  • Failure to comply with any of the preceding criteria shall result in notification of noncompliance being sent to the recognized neighborhood association officers and/or board members from the Office of Neighborhood Coordination.  Upon receipt of this notice, a recognized neighborhood association must offer evidence of compliance within 60 days; if it does not comply, the association shall be removed from the list of recognized neighborhood associations.

The City says it is willing to sit down with both groups to work out a solution.

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