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Rejuvenating a ‘beautiful but aging park’

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Richard Munos and his 4-year-old German shorthaired pointer Sam enjoy Los Altos dog park on Thursday. A major Los Altos Park renovation will expand softball facilities and eventually yield a new onsite dog park, though the existing dog park is scheduled to close in the next few weeks. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A sweeping renovation at Los Altos Park has begun – a $13 million overhaul officials believe will lure more regional softball tournaments to the city.

But alongside planning expanded outfields, spectator seating and a new promenade, designers also prioritized safety at the property with an on-site skate park where multiple people have been shot – including fatal incidents in 2015 and 2019 – and which has become a popular resting spot for people who are homeless.

Preventing crime “is a major principle undergirding this entire renovation,” Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon said at the groundbreaking Thursday. Officials said enhanced lighting and a layout that brings activities to the park’s edges should contribute to overall safety.

“There are some basics like line of sight so we make sure there aren’t areas where people can hide and do drugs, things like that, and also lighting,” Mayor Tim Keller said during the ceremony.

City Councilor Diane Gibson, meanwhile, said two city security officers will be dedicated solely to Los Altos – that’s out of 10 total who will be devoted to park security in the upcoming fiscal year.

Los Altos’ renovation incudes a guard command post in the middle, Simon said.

“Combined with activities at the park – having the eyes and ears of the public – and strong support from (city police), I think Los Altos Park will be a tremendously safe and secure place when we’re back here,” Simon said.

The first phase of the project is expected to be done by the summer of 2022. It will include five new softball fields – there are currently four – with 300-foot outfield fences, a restroom/community/concessions building and a shaded pedestrian walkway through the center.

A second phase will add a BMX pump track, 20 horseshoe courts, a new playground and a new dog park. Los Altos’ existing dog park will be closing in a few weeks and unavailable through both construction phases. That’s for safety reasons, a city spokeswoman said.

Councilor Gibson, who represents the Los Altos area, said Los Altos’ overhaul has been in the works since before she joined the council in 2013 and has taken a community-wide effort, including funding support from several state lawmakers.

“I’m so glad to be breaking ground here today after what feels like a really long time and beginning a project that will transform this already beautiful, but aging, park – just like me,” Gibson quipped.


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