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Your ideas for putting Albuquerque on the map

In our last episode – make that last column – we learned about Albuquerque marimba player Steve Chavez’s big ideas to put Albuquerque on the map.

They included a zip line down the side of the Sandias and a replica of Stonehenge near the volcanos. (He posted his full list of ideas on the web version of the column.)

I asked you, dear readers, to put on your thinking caps and come up with your own big ideas.

I’m happy to say the response was whelming. Not enough to crush me – after all, I have other duties over here – but enough to provide me with enough ideas to have options for presentation.

Anyway, here are some of the big ideas I received that you might find interesting. I’ve avoided considering the cost of implementing any of them because, Lord knows, I don’t have any money. But maybe this exercise in thinking might put a spark into someone who does.

How about:

Transforming Civic Plaza into “a world-class urban garden, with beautiful and intriguing small water features like at the Alhambra in Granada (Spain), surrounded by several destination restaurants with lots of space for open-air dining,” says Nick Estes.

Estes is a retired University of New Mexico counsel and a former assistant U.S. attorney. He actually has been involved in big ideas, such as the acquisition of the Elena Gallegos Grant for the city and the Forest Service.

Water is a component in several ideas.

Karen Chavez asks, “How about a real water park? It’s so hot in the summer and nowhere to cool off.”

It can be done.

Rapid City, S.D., turned part of its plaza into a free water park for kids – basically different types of water sprays. The park is lined with shops, cafes and ice cream shops, and in the evening, the water is turned off and becomes the dancing area for weekly summer concerts.

Steve Zabinsky presents a Venice theme – and not the beach in California: How about transforming Downtown near the river? A network of canals, borrowing water from the Rio Grande, that would wind through a commercial and tourist area, building the Venice of the Southwest? Casinos, restaurants, condos, corporate headquarters, gondolas!

“Water would be returned to the river downstream of the Venice area, so there would be no net loss of water.”

Linda Kay Livingston, a frequent contributor to the Journal’s “Double Exposure” caption contest on Tuesdays, says, “My big idea to boost tourism in Albuquerque is a giant inner tube water slide from the base of the tram to the Rio Grande. It would be way cool in every way!”

Literally and figuratively.

Jim Johnson, who teaches a death and dying psychology class at Central New Mexico Community College, presented 11 ideas, including two inspired by San Diego.

Johnson would turn Tingley Beach into a real park to “rival San Diego’s Balboa Park in terms of beauty. … This would attract artists, musicians and other buskers which would be good for tourism.”

He’d also like to see a “graffiti park … for those who want to tag and paint murals” similar to one under San Diego’s side of the Coronado Bridge.

Also looking outward for inspiration was Nancy Weaver, who suggested emulating the musical swings found in Downtown Montreal; or the public drums like those found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; or, better yet, public pianos like the installation art created by British artist Luke Jerram called “Play Me, I’m Yours.”

An estimated 8 million people worldwide have played more than 1,300 pianos that were installed all over 46 cities around the world.

“People want to do things, not just look at things,” Weaver says.

Nancy Haubrich and Bob Danielson said they had a lot of fun thinking up things to do here. They are local musicians and, it seems, altruists.

Their “craziest” of numerous ideas is to “buy the Parthenon from Greece, thereby putting ABQ on the map and helping Greece solve its monetary problems.”

Entirely impossible? The London Bridge is in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. But, still, entirely implausible.

Their favorite idea, called the Sandia Skywalk, is a “transparent-bottomed floor that projects out over a precipitous cliff on the Sandias, such as has been done at the Grand Canyon.”

It would be open to tourists by day and for events after dark: “Imagine how exciting & scary that would be. … People would NEVER forget a wedding or dance with a glass-bottom floor over ‘nothing’!”

Aaron Marks suggests extending the tramway from its base across town to the West Side with stops at various spots along Central Avenue “thus making it the longest tram in the world.”

Two readers suggest creating a Central Park equivalent in Albuquerque.

Monica O’Reilly says, “The Bio-Park is a start, but somehow it lacks the welcoming, come-one-come-all, this-is-your-playground atmosphere.”

David Vogel, the project leader for the Central Park New Mexico Project, has been doing more than thinking about this for a while. His group has been promoting the revitalization of the state fairgrounds as a “destination venue, a true ‘gem’ in our midst.”

Mark Wasilewski suggests “building an artificial volcano-museum/hotel at least 100 feet tall that people can explore and stay there overnight.” The place: Interstate 40 and Paseo de Volcan, of course.

Paula Duvall says, “I don’t think we need to build a thing. Just a great slogan.”

A couple of her suggestions:

“Closer to the moon, farther from your in-laws.”

“Enchiladas in their native language.”

“You don’t need to spell it to enjoy it.”

She adds: “Hope you laugh all day.”

Thanks to all the readers who sent in their ideas. There were many more than I could publish, but they all were good. Yes, they were.

Art restored

In my UpFront column of June 26 I whined about the conditions of some pieces of public art, especially the one at the Department of Transportation building on the frontage road northwest of the Big I.

"A Trip Through Her History and Beauty" by Karen Yank has been restored at the Department of Transportation building on the frontage road northwest of the Big I. (Albuquerque Journal)

“A Trip Through Her History and Beauty” by Karen Yank has been restored at the Department of Transportation building on the frontage road northwest of the Big I. (Albuquerque Journal)

I’m happy to report that “A Trip Through Her History and Beauty” by Karen Yank has been respectfully restored and reinstalled.

I received emails from the state officials involved, but I had already noticed it while driving south on the freeway.

Now, to keep my eyes on traffic.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to editorial page editor Dan Herrera at 823-3810 or