City officials estimate cleanup cost of Albuquerque park at $700K per year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There’s no questioning that Coronado Park is now a space for homeless camps.

City officials estimate they’re spending around $700,000 a year just to clean up and maintain the park, including bussing and security. Those resources are coming from multiple city departments. 

On Monday, KOB 4 found somewhere between 60 to 80 tents spread along the fence at Coronado Park. There were over 100 homeless people walking around, hanging out, and setting up new tents. 

Every other Wednesday, City of Albuquerque crews clear out the park and clean it up. During the last city council meeting, councilor Klarissa Peña asked, “Last meeting I had asked for information related to how much it cost for the upkeep of Coronado Park and I don’t know if anyone had an update?”

“Including pay, one Coronado Park cleanup costs APD $950 approximately,” a community safety representative answered. 

“I know when we do our Wednesday clean-ups it averages between $32 to $3,700 ,” Solid Waste Management Director Matthew Wheland answered. 

In fact, seven City of Albuquerque departments work together to manage the notorious park every other week. 

“The data I have compiled from Solid Waste, Community Safety, Parks and Rec, Fire, Police, Family and Community Services, and Municipal Development, totals the bi-weekly cost of cleaning Coronado Park is $27,154,” a budget representative told the council. 

After doing some math, Peña figured out how much this cleanup is costing the city every year. 

“So that is $706,000 annually for Coronado Park,” Peña said, looking up from her calculator. “I just really wanted that question answered Mr. President just because we are talking about budgetary items.”  

The $700,000 a year price tag shocked folks who live and work near the park, like Randy Baker with Rio Bravo Brewing Company.

“My gut feeling was, hey, we are spending way too much money in one location just to move them out during the day while they clean up then they all move back then they have to clean up the other lot they moved into next door,” Owner of Rio Bravo Brewing Company Randy Baker said.

Baker says he sympathizes with the homeless population, but claims the encampment is hurting his business. He also doesn’t believe city officials are doing all they can to clean up the park, and help those living there for good. 

“We have a bigger problem than just cleaning up parks, we gotta start facing the issues that we have in this city and everyone gotta get involved we can’t just kick the ball down the road anymore,” Baker said. 

Now, city officials clarified on Monday that $700,000 is just an estimate. 

“When we talk about Coronado Park, yes, there is a certain amount of focused work on that park. For example, FCC employees go around to provide outreach and communications there, but they are doing that across the city so I just want to make sure a portion of that $27,000 is already day-to-day operating costs we assume anyway,” CABQ Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael said. 

The city says they will have a definite yearly cost for the cleanup at Coronado Park by the end of the week.