Bernalillo County will mark the completion of the second phase of Gateway Park with a party on Sunday, starting what officials hope will become a long-standing tradition in the South Valley.
“It’s not going to be your normal ribbon-cutting,” said Vincent Murphy, deputy county manager. “It’s going to be a fair-type event.”
The event will start at 10 a.m., with the ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. It will last until 2 p.m.
The 4.5-acre park is on the southeast corner of Bridge and Isleta, one of the South Valley’s busiest intersections.
The second phase started during the summer and cost the county about $438,000. Crews installed another playground for younger children and built a plaza on the corner with shade structures and a mixture of concrete and dirt surfaces. The property didn’t have much on it except for weeds and old structures, including a former McDonald’s building, before the county decided to transform it into a park. It even used some of the demolished McDonald’s to construct stone walls that line some of the paths.
“This is a really big deal in the South Valley,” Murphy said. “It takes what was a blight to the community and creates a warm, inviting atmosphere.”
The free event will feature booths with goods from local artists, four local food vendors, a DJ, a train and carnival games.
Murphy said the county hopes to make this an annual event, coinciding with the balloon fiesta. He said he hopes Sunday’s festivities inspire the community to use the recently installed plaza for other events.
Clay Campbell, the county’s Parks and Recreation Department planning manager, said the county is venturing into new territory. It has traditionally let the public use open spaces and parks for sporting events, but this is the first property that will offer a spot for vendors. He said the plaza is in an ideal location to attract shoppers.
Murphy said users would have to sign an agreement and pay a minimal fee, but he hopes to see the plaza put to use.
“Sunday’s event will unveil this feature to the community,” he said.
Murphy added that the park’s completion, including the plaza, is a great beginning to the county’s plans to redevelop the Bridge Boulevard corridor in an effort to make it more appealing, increasing economic opportunities and the quality of life for residents.
“We see this as economic development as well,” Murphy said. “It’s been proven that one of the top things people consider when relocating is quality-of-life issues. Open spaces and parks improve quality of life.”