Concerns over ‘mini Coronado Park’ growing near businesses

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque city leaders announced a new pickup spot for the West Side Emergency Shelter when it closed Coronado Park last August.

In the months since, business owners say some of the city’s homeless moved to 1st St. under I-40. 

“They camp out there, they sh** out there, they’ve got needles out there, they throw empty bottles across my fence line or trash on my side of the property,” said Steven Garcia, the owner of Lucky Boyz Limo.

Garcia bought the old Maaco Auto Shop next to the underpass about five months ago.

“You buy a building, you’re spending the money, you’re spending on it trying to fix it up to make the environment look better and these guys just come destroy the atmosphere. Destroy the look,” said Garcia.

Connie Vigil is also a business owner in the area and the president of the Greater Albuquerque Business Alliance. She has seen the problems grow since the city closed nearby Coronado Park.

“Multiple businesses are having multiple problems all over again and it’s as if the city just wants to repeat Coronado Park part two and it’s really not acceptable,” said Vigil.

She’d like to start seeing the results of taxpayers’ investment in the Gateway Center instead of another Coronado Park. 

“Enough is enough. The city and county have to do way better for our business sector and our residents,” said Vigil.

Katie Simon a public affairs specialist for the Family and Community Services Department said in a statement:  

The 1st Street and Indian School area is on the city’s radar to respond to public safety concerns and get people connected to case management and housing resources. Over the last few months, over 50 people have been housed out of that area specifically. Family & Community Services continues to devote resources to outreach, and weekly case conferencing between multiple service agencies is working to break down barriers and help more people into housing.

The City’s Solid Waste Management Department is conducting daily litter sweeps in the area and as people are housed, encampments are removed.

The Albuquerque Police Department’s Valley Area Command is taking every opportunity to send officers to check on the area, clear outstanding warrants, and issue citations as needed for trespassing, obstructing movement, and littering. Yesterday alone, officers issued 7 citations for Trespassing. The land under the highway is state property, and the City is in communication with the State Police and Department of Transportation to leverage additional resources.

Simon said the city is looking for an alternative pickup spot for the WEHC, but doesn’t have anything definite yet.