North Domingo Baca Aquatic Center: When could we see progress?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The massive dirt lot next to the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center has been sitting untouched for decades. A master plan from the early 2000s slated it for an aquatic center, which neighbors have been waiting on for years now.

“It was one of the things that I researched when I moved here from out of state,” said Kelly Harrell, who has lived near the park for seven years now. “And when I moved here, I quickly learned that the project was perpetually underfunded.”

She has been a part of a neighbor group rooting for the project, and working with City Councilor Brook Bassan on the funding, since before the pandemic.

“We have funded this project fully at least once then the pandemic and inflation really took off. And now what was a $32 million project has now increased to $50 million. And that will continue,” said Harrell.

The city has raised almost $40 million for the project so far, between state, city, and other sources of funding.

Bassan says it could take two or three phases to finish it, but believes the money the city has now is enough for at least one.

“I don’t see any reason for us to continue letting inflation and costs continue to rise while we wait to begin some of the project that is fully funded while we accumulate the final funding to finish the entire project,” said Bassan. “I do feel that it’s possible things got slightly off track. But I’ve been told I was incorrect on that. So I’m just making sure to push and make sure to advocate for the project that I know Albuquerque residents really do want.”

The city will come to voters again in November to approve five million dollars in bonds for the project. Bassan also expects she’ll be having more conversations with state legislators come January to get the final funding piece for the estimated $50 million center.

Leaders say site work will start this fall, shortly after the North Domingo Baca splash pad opens in the same area.