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ABQ streetlight conversion: 21K down, 10K to go

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ever drive around Albuquerque at night and notice one side of the street looks brighter than the other?

Pat Montoya, director of the city’s Department of Municipal Development, said that’s the case on certain stretches of Montgomery and Menaul and in other places around town.

It’s because a city streetlight update remains about two-thirds complete. While the city – through contractor Citelum – has in the past year converted nearly 21,000 city-owned street lamps to LEDs, Public Service Co. of New Mexico owns the remaining 10,000 or so and has not yet transitioned them.

But that process is about to begin.

The city – which pays the bills to keep those PNM-owned lights on – has a $1.6 million agreement with the utility company to convert those lights, too. Montoya said the changeouts should start next month and be done by early 2020.

Montoya said the LEDs have roughly the same wattage as the older bulbs but they better concentrate light downward instead of losing it into the sky, leading to a more targeted and intense illumination.

City Councilor Diane Gibson noted the disparity during a meeting last week.

“I think a lot of people are figuring out which poles belong to PNM and which belong to the city,” she said. “Because the ones that belong to PNM aren’t that great.”

The city forged a 15-year, $45 million conversion and maintenance contract with Citelum last year. Citelum completed the conversion of the city-owned poles last fall and Montoya said the results are apparent in the city’s electricity costs. Albuquerque’s streetlight bill now averages $360,000 a month versus about $440,000 monthly average a year ago, he said.

But there are other public benefits, too.

“I think if you live in an area that seems brighter, then you feel a little bit safer,” he said.

Los Altos Pool is open again after a 15-month, $6.6 million renovation. The pool is located on Lomas, just west of Eubank. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

BACK IN THE SWIM OF THINGS: The city of Albuquerque’s oldest indoor pool has a new roof.

And new walls.

And new locker rooms.

In fact, almost everything changed during a just-completed 15-month, $6.6 million renovation at Los Altos Pool, which reopens to the public today.

Crews expanded the deck area and added a meeting room. They installed LED lighting, a new boiler and an HVAC system that dramatically reduces the chloramine smell that often dominates the air inside pools.

The pool’s frame remains the same – still 25 meters long and nine lanes – though workers did scrape down and replaster the bottom.

“It’s basically a new pool,” Josh Herbert said last week from the deck of the facility at 10100 Lomas NE.

Herbert, the city’s aquatics division manager, said that more is in store for Los Altos, which opened as an outdoor pool in 1959 but was enclosed in 1962 to become the city’s first public indoor pool. Landscaping around the structure will continue, and the city plans to install solar panels this fall.

Plans also call for a splash pool and some slides within the next five years, Herbert said.

Jessica Dyer: