Organizers battle to keep visitor center out of Elena Gallegos Open Space

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Organizers with “Save the Elena Gallegos Open Space” are ready to take their battle to the courtroom.

“We did not expect that we would have to go this far to save the Elena Gallegos, because the deed is so clear, those restrictions are so black and white,” said Katrina Sanchez.

Sanchez and her husband Kiko have been protesting the city’s plans to build a visitor center inside the open space since February. The city’s Parks & Recreation Department says the project is still in the planning phase. 

The Sanchez feel their concerns with the project are falling on deaf ears.

“After months and months and months of reaching out to our city representatives and getting no response, did we finally realize that we would need to take drastic action and file a lawsuit,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez says they are preparing to file an injunction against the city. They say the proposed visitor center violates a 1982 purchase agreement – which states the land can not be used for new buildings. They’re worried the project could set a precedent for new development in the open space.

“If this first building is built, it will establish a precedent for buildings in the Elena Gallegos,” Sanchez said. “We won’t be able to uphold the deed in court, because the precedent for buildings will render the restrictions on use of the land unenforceable in court.”

The city has not announced any plans for new buildings outside of the proposed visitor center.

“This is the last open space property in the city, where the land is preserved as wilderness and has not been interpreted by the government for us, and so it’s just a rare precious resource that we have left to us,” she said.

It’s not clear when the new lawsuit will be filed. The group is asking for donations to help keep up with ongoing legal fees. You can donate by clicking here.