City addresses safety concerns at Phil Chacon Park

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City officials have responded to a multitude of safety concerns at Phil Chacon Park in southeast Albuquerque. This follows reports of homeless individuals venturing onto the nearby campus of Van Buren Middle School, and also an alarming amount of needles, broken glass and trash in the area.

The president of the Trumbull Village Neighborhood Association called on the city Friday to step up its response to the dozens of homeless individual recently displaced after the closure of Coronado Park.

“With Coronado Park closing, we saw an influx of those folks coming down to the Phil Chacon Park, and before you knew it, it was like something that was not such an issue became a huge issue,” Pastor Joanne Landry said. “It’s a little bit more than we can handle right now. So we need all of the resources, we need the mayor’s office, we need their city council people.”

City officials told KOB 4 they are addressing concerns by relocating homeless encampments set up at Phil Chacon Park, and offering resources to people who need them.

“We are moving camps, we are citing and enforcing, right, anything that might be illegal, illegal activity, but somebody who just kind of looks unsheltered and might necessarily, you know, who’s just hanging out for the day, that’s not something that we will put as a high priority,” said Mariela Ruiz-Angel, the dDirector for the Albuquerque Community Safety Department.

Other concerns include the drug paraphernalia in the park. Parks and Recreation officials said it has sent crews to Phil Chacon every day this week.

Albuquerque police sent the following statement to KOB 4 about its response:

“Officers from the Southeast assisted yesterday with cleanup. Southeast PRT officers will be at Phil Chacon and Wilson Park to conduct enforcement and assist with clean-up every day. We are also working with Solid Waste and the Parks and Rec departments on this initiative.”

KOB 4 reported several needles in the area during their reporting on Van Buren Middle School Thursday. Our crew returned Friday morning and saw that nothing had changed.

The city claimed it sent a crew to the area a couple hours later.

“We just did have a team out there because it is an area of concern because of our youth programming and the largeness of the space,” said Carol Pierce, the director of Family and Community Services for the city. “It was cleaned up at the areas that we are concerned. Now, I’m also going to say I do know things change quickly.

Our KOB 4 crew returned to the park for a third time, after the interview with city officials, to see if the needles they noticed earlier had been cleaned up. The needles were still there.

The city encourages people to report suspicious or illegal activity to the Community Safety Department by calling 311.