ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city’s massive “One Albuquerque” sculpture sure does get around.
And apparently, that’s deliberate.
On Friday, Albuquerque City Councilor Trudy Jones told the Journal she was “appalled” to have learned that the 17,800-pound sculpture is now sitting on a flatbed trailer parked in an outdoor construction and maintenance yard at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.
She shared a photo that a concerned citizen sent to her of the sculpture on the trailer, parked adjacent to a pile of dirt and a dumpster.
Because of its weight the sculpture could not be placed on Civic Plaza proper, which caps a parking garage below. So the free-standing sculpture last August was placed at the corner of Third and Tijeras, near the southeast corner of Civic Plaza.
Members of the Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council and National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico quickly protested, saying its placement was a hazard, particularly to people who are blind, as well as in violation of ADA compliance rules, both past and present.
City spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said Friday that was among the considerations the city took into account when it spent more than $5,000 to have the sculpture hoisted onto a flatbed trailer and moved to Balloon Fiesta Park, where it remained on display atop the trailer, which was draped with a skirt during the annual Balloon Fiesta.
In fact, she said, the plan had always been to maintain the sculpture as a mobile display “and move it to big events throughout the city throughout the year.” Now that it’s on the trailer, where it will remain, the cost of moving it from site to site is minimal, she said.
The peripatetic sculpture will next be moved to the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden in time to be incorporated into the River of Lights holiday display, which opens Nov. 30.
Jones also said she had misgivings about the sculpture’s cost of $53,000 – of which $39,000 came from lodgers’ tax revenue designated for marketing, and $14,000 as a gift from the National Senior Games organizing committee.
In addition, she objected to the nearly $10,000 the administration of Mayor Tim Keller spent to remove the old blue signs placed at popular panhandling intersections and replace them with new orange signs.
The old signs placed by the previous administration, urged the panhandlers to call the 311 citizen contact center for assistance finding food and shelter, and it asked drivers to make donations to a United Way fund rather than give money to panhandlers.
The new signs encourage citizens to “Give the Gift of Shelter” by making a contribution to donateabq.org. Money goes to the One Albuquerque Housing Fund.
Jones said the sculpture and sign money could have been used to feed the homeless and provide them with housing vouchers.
Damazyn noted that, earlier this week, the city issued a $25,000 check from the One Albuquerque Housing Fund to Barrett House, a women’s and children’s emergency shelter, to provide permanent shelter for several families.
The One Albuquerque Housing Fund has raised about $35,000 since its inception, Damazyn said.