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City, APS battle over broken fence

Before: The fence to keep middle school students from jaywalking across Girard stood for months as a damaged line of demarcation for bureaucratic responsibility between Albuquerque Public Schools and the city of Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Spencer Nelson)

Before: The fence to keep middle school students from jaywalking across Girard stood for months as a damaged line of demarcation for bureaucratic responsibility between Albuquerque Public Schools and the city of Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Spencer Nelson)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If “good fences make good neighbors,” what do damaged fences make?

If the one in question involves Albuquerque Public Schools and the city of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, the answer could be a wavy line of bureaucratic responsibility.

The fence, installed in the Girard median around 15 years ago to prevent students at Jefferson Middle School from being dropped off and jaywalking to the front of the campus, had “been damaged for a couple of months,” according to driver Spencer Nelson.

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Nelson says he reported the leaning poles and hanging chain link as long as two months ago “to ABQ 311,” yet until lunchtime Tuesday, part of it still leaned closer and closer to the asphalt in the driving lanes.

On one side of the proverbial fence, DMD spokesman Mark Motsko said Monday he checked on potential repairs and was “told Albuquerque Public Schools maintains this fence.”

On the other, APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said Monday he checked on potential repairs and learned that while the district put the fence in, it did not have a maintenance agreement to repair it.

After: A call from the Albuquerque Journal prompted the city to remove all the fence – damaged and not damaged – and APS to re-evaluate if a pedestrian barrier is still needed. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

After: A call from the Albuquerque Journal prompted the city to remove all the fence – damaged and not damaged – and APS to re-evaluate if a pedestrian barrier is still needed. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Until around noon Tuesday, the bureaucracies rode the fence on who would pick up the cost of repairs.

At that time, the city went out and removed not just the damaged portions of chain link that Motsko said “present a hazard,” but all of it.

Before the removal, Nelson had explained “I am afraid that one more wire is going to pop some dark night and one of the black poles is going to go right through my car as I move into the left-turn lane going south on Girard. ”

Now it just looks like a line of black poles that jaywalkers can run into as they dodge traffic.

Nelson’s point is if and when multiple crews go out to remove and repair the fence, “it’s our money that’s paying for all this. In the time they’ve spent calling each other, they could have gone out and fixed it.”

Chavez says taxpayers may not have to pick up the tab for replacing the fence since APS has built a loop road in the back of Jefferson.

The district will be re-evaluating the need for the pedestrian barrier on Girard.

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