ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — The mayor only has six months left in office, but as he heads out the door, expect a flurry of ribbon-cuttings. A number of high-profile projects are set for completion, just before the end of his term. His office says they usually spend about $100-million a year on projects. This year, however, they say they’re set to spend three times that much.
Mayor Berry has been busy his final year in office.
“We just want to be very intentional about leaving the city better than we found it,” said Mayor Berry.
Some may think of Albuquerque Rapid Transit as his biggest, most recent project, but there are many others.
He is posing for photo-ops and often spotted, shovel in hand, for groundbreakings.
“Some of these projects we’re starting this year we actually started planning six years ago, seven years ago,” said Berry.
Mayor Berry is not starting many projects for his successor to finish. He is trying to get them wrapped up before the end of his term in December, like the $18 million baseball complex on the west side.
It will be home to five, full-sized baseball fields. Plus, all the amenities you’d expect, like concession stands, bleachers and restrooms.
There’s also One Central — the $40 million, six-story building set to include 60 apartments, retail, restaurants, a bowling alley and a parking garage.
Mayor Berry also has a $4 million Civic Plaza revamp on his agenda, featuring a new fountain, shade structures, amphitheater seating and more.
Also just last week, he broke ground on a Paseo landscaping project. It’ll cost the city nearly$2.5 million and will include solar power, automatic irrigation, decorative rock designs and more than 1,000 new shrubs and trees
So, what’s the rush?
“Like with something like ART, it’s a controversial project. It’s a heavy lift, there’s a lot of disruption. I want to make sure our next mayor doesn’t have to deal with that,” explained Berry.
Yet, some political experts have a different take.
“I think Mayor Berry like all mayors as they come to the end of their second term… start thinking about their legacy,” said University of New Mexico Professor and KRQE News 13 Political Analyst Gabe Sanchez. “Saying let me go all in I’m trying to put my name behind some positive projects to increase my profile.”
KRQE News 13 asked Mayor Berry if his ambitious schedule had anything to do with leaving a legacy or a future run for office.
“None of these projects, if you look at them, are in that genre. If you’re going to do something popular, you don’t dig up the main road in your town. You do that because you think it’s the right thing to do,” said Berry.
Mayor Berry says there will be some projects still in the works when the next mayor takes office, like the Sunport makeover.
Another project that has generated a lot of excitement but will not be finished before the next mayor leaves office in December, is the new $12 million penguin exhibit.
Officials aim to finish that one until spring. However, Mayor Berry says the building will be completed this year, and he plans to hold a ribbon-cutting when it is.