ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Activists opposed to a city proposal for recreational facility development in Albuquerque’s riverside bosque met Wednesday to sketch out their alternative vision for the area’s future.
Among their proposals: better parking areas and signs, improvements to the bosque bicycle trail to make it safer and more habitat restoration in the riverside forest that flanks the Rio Grande through Albuquerque.
The groups have been accused of only saying “no” to city planning efforts, and wanted to demonstrate their affirmative hopes for the future of the bosque, explained Richard Barish of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter.
Wednesday’s meeting, held at the Albuquerque Museum, had been planned by the city as a public session to discuss the “Rio Grande Vision,” a proposal unveiled in the spring that included new trails, as well as pedestrian bridges and river-viewing platforms in the bosque. After hundreds of people showed up at a Sept. 4 meeting to protest the “Vision,” the city canceled the Sept. 18 follow-up meeting to give staff time to incorporate comments into the bosque proposal, according to Barbara Baca, head of Parks and Recreation Department.
But Barish and others decided to gather anyway to discuss their vision of the bosque’s future, and more than 200 people turned out Wednesday to hear poetry, music and speakers in a rally held outside the museum. Mayoral candidates Pete Dinelli and Paul Heh each took a turn at the microphone, pledging to protect the bosque. Incumbent Richard Berry wasn’t present.
Tony Anella, an architect and board secretary of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, an environmental group, said he doesn’t oppose improving public access to the bosque, but doing so should be based on conservation science.
“I hope the public will be better informed about what the choices are,” he said of the meeting. “… The issue really is, How do you design that access?”
Barish, one of the leaders of a coalition working on the issue, said it is important to maintain one of Albuquerque’s “wild edges” – a forest and river running through the midst of New Mexico’s largest city. It is part of what “unique sense of place,” he said.
Any city effort should include major habitat restoration efforts, critics argue.
Journal staff writer Dan McKay contributed to this report.