District 4 City Councilor Brook Bassan released a statement on Wednesday, July 27, about the city’s decision to close Coronado Park in an email circulated by residents in the far Northeast Heights. In the email Bassan wrote:
“It was a surprise to learn the Mayor plans to close Coronado Park in August. We have been hearing consistently from residents to shut down the park and to no longer allow it to continue. We have heard that overnight camping in a city park is against city ordinance and should be enforced. I agree with all of this. I also think we are overdue to close down Coronado Park, instead of letting it continue as an invincible island in Albuquerque. This all being said, I do not have a new solution to propose at this point in time. I had a solution in June that I thought was worth trying. Since then, I have been made strongly aware that this is not an idea of which most in Albuquerque approved. I will continue to support APD and their efforts, as well as doing what I can so that we are able to come into compliance with the McLendon and CASA settlement agreements. This will eventually help our law enforcement officers in many ways.”
On May 14, an op-ed written by Bassan and District 7 City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn was posted to the Neighborhood Journal in which they proposed the city create safe outdoor spaces for the homeless. Safe outdoor spaces would provide city-owned land for unhoused individuals to temporarily live on and would include bathrooms, security, outreach services and modern tents on a referral basis. Bassan reversed course after receiving pushback from constituents and is now proposing to strike the term safe outdoor spaces from the updated Integrated Development Ordinance, which was approved by city council in early June. The council will hear Bassan’s new proposed legislation in mid-August.
After hearing about the city’s decision to close Coronado Park, one concerned citizen wrote in an email, “I just read the article that Mayor Keller is now going to close Coronado Park with, as he freely admits, no plan for what to do next. Wow – what do you propose as a solution?” the email asks Bassan. “The homeless that are affected will just disperse freely to who knows where?”
One of the reasons the city made the decision to close Coronado Park is because of the dangerous living conditions. An Albuquerque Police Department July 26 tweet highlights some of the issues the homeless and surrounding community are dealing with at the park. “Safety is our top priority, and Coronado Park has become a location for criminals to prey on our most vulnerable,” APD Valley Area Acting Commander Nick Wheeler said. “Individuals have been victims of human and drug trafficking, as well as assaults, batteries, homicides and even extortion.”
According to the APD tweet, police have confiscated the following items in the last 30 days at the park: one shotgun, three handguns, 4,500 fentanyl pills, 3,008 grams of methamphetamine, 24 grams of heroin, 29 grams of cocaine, several rocks of crack cocaine, and $10,000 in cash. The tweet also notes that three felony warrants were cleared, and two federal warrants cleared in the last 30 days. Since September 2021, there were 85 Albuquerque Community Safety responses and in 2021 651 APD calls for service to the park. There were also two shootings at the park in the last two years and 20 assault and battery reports.
Bassan also responded to a complaint that water rates have increased by $1 a month to help pay for encampment cleanups. “Albuquerque Solid Waste requested an increase in fees for homeless encampment cleanup,” Bassan said. “Although it did pass City Council by a majority vote, I did not vote in favor of this effort.”