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Spring cleaning

Nestor Araiza blows leaves and trash out of cactus plants in the median of Paseo de Peralta last week. He and others with McCumber Fine Gardens were sprucing up the median they take care of through the city’s Adopt a Median program. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe is becoming more lively with an increase in visitors and locals perusing city streets, brought on by warmer weather and less severe COVID-19 restrictions.

That’s led city officials to begin a program to “spruce up” Santa Fe, an effort to improve the image of much-maligned medians and sidewalk areas.

Mayor Alan Webber said last month that Santa Fe County’s status as a “green” county has prompted efforts to clean up city-owned streets and sidewalks.

“Our team is moving forward on the operational assumption that we’re preparing for spring and summer, and people able to come out, and participate in and take advantage of the beauty of Santa Fe,” Webber said.

Part of the effort includes improving the condition of medians, which have often come under scrutiny for the height of weeds.

Acting Parks Division Director Melissa McDonald said the city has already started on medians, but that it will take a while to get the hundreds of medians where they need to be.

“I’d love for us to get our 578 medians that we take care of to that state, but it’s going to be a long time coming to get there,” McDonald said. “But we’re really making huge progress.”

Santa Fe residents and officials have routinely expressed the need to eliminate weeds in public areas.

“Every year, it seems like we get graded on how well, or not well, we do with weeds,” Webber said. “It’s one of the things that is always going to be a Santa Fe concern because we want the city to look great.”

City preparations are also extending to parks and fields, where activity is expected to increase as the weather continues to warm.

That includes Fort Marcy Park, where the independent minor league baseball team Santa Fe Fuego is scheduled to start playing games in June. McDonald said the city is expecting more people to potentially start visiting parks more frequently and, with the beginning of Little League play, the city needs to be prepared.

As far as where resources will be divvied first, McDonald said the city will focus on the south and west sides of town, where temperatures are typically higher.

Weeds in Santa Fe can grow so big that they can choke off sidewalks. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“The weeds start growing more quickly,” she said. “That’s where we start, then we work our way toward the east side of town.”

Webber said the city is expecting an increase in clean-up requests from residents, especially now that the county has moved into the turquoise level, the least restrictive COVID-19 category implemented by the state.

“We’re not going to claim everything’s perfect, but we are working hard to make it look good,” he said.

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