The city remains on track to close Coronado Park by the end of the month.
In a statement from the city released Monday, approximately half the camps that were once at the park are no longer there since receiving notice of location’s closure and the work of outreach efforts.
The Family and Community Services Department (FCS) and the Albuquerque Safety Department (ACS) have spearheaded the outreach effort to connect residents of the park connected with the right program or organization. Last week’s efforts resulted in 29 people voluntarily leaving Coronado Park with 21 receiving hotel vouchers and entered a pathway to housing, four being transported to the Albuquerque Opportunity Center Men’s Shelter, two being transported to a hospital for medical care, and two requesting assistance to return to their home city.
Additionally, outreach teams have surveyed 110 park residents to get an understanding of the individual needs and barriers each faces and will add about 70 new people to the HMIS Coordinated Entry system, which is a shared system between homeless service providers to fill openings in supportive housing programs.
FCS has also updated pickup locations for the shuttle to the Westside shelter. The new schedule and locations can be found here.
“The city’s teams are working diligently to offer services to folks in need, protect the surrounding neighborhood, and clean the park, which has become a hazard,” said Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael. “With the work already being done, we are on track to close the park by the end of this month.”
In the July announcement that Coronado Park would be closed, several reasons were cited for the decision, with two major factors being safety and the cleanliness and condition of the park.
Despite the city’s best efforts to maintain the park, with the Solid Waste Department and Parks and Recreation Department clearing out the camp every two weeks for a cleanup. Last week, more than 20 tons of waste was removed during cleanup. “Because of the level of waste and damage to the grounds, the teams will move to a weekly cleanup schedule,” the city’s update reads. “Damage to the park’s irrigation system, hazardous dead trees and pilfered electricity from nearby businesses present urgent concerns for both the long-term viability of the grounds and the safety of those occupying the park.” Encampment outreach teams will continue rule enforcement for the surrounding areas to keep them safe and clear.
Additionally, the Albuquerque Police Department Valley Area Command is implementing an updated plan to secure and protect the neighborhood, bringing an increased presence to the area around Coronado Park as well as increased surveillance and data monitoring of calls for service. ACS will also increase patrols in the area to provide behavioral health responses and connecting those in need to service providers. The park will also be under surveillance to ensure it remains secure.
So far this year, APD has responded to more than 400 calls for service at the park, and the city cites dangerous situations and items confiscated in its urgency to close the park: one shotgun, three handguns, 4,500 fentanyl pills, 3,008 grams (or more than five pounds) of methamphetmine, 24 grams of heroin, 29 grams of cocaine, several rocks of crack-cocaine, $10,000 cash, three felony warrants cleared, two federal warrants cleared, 85 ACS responses since September 2021, 418 APD calls for service so far in 2022, two shootings in the last two years, and 20 assault and battery reports.