The city of Albuquerque’s plan to allow safe outdoor space operator to use its property on Menaul Boulevard just west of Interstate 25 has sparked backlash from some who live and work in the vicinity.
But it is not the only potential use for the site.
In addition to the proposed safe outdoor space — which is currently tied up in appeals — the city’s Solid Waste Department is eyeing the parcel for a future garbage transfer station. A transfer station would allow individual city trash trucks to drop off their loads so larger vehicles could then transport the garbage to the landfill.
While the city has looked at other sites for the Solid Waste Department facility, the Menaul property is the only location currently under consideration, a city spokeswoman said.
Shortly after taking office in late 2017, Mayor Tim Keller heeded neighborhood objections and scuttled a planned transfer station at Edith and Comanche.
People near the Menaul site — located just northwest of the Big I — are now raising their own stink.
“That’s just not a good location; that’s a terrible location to put something of that nature right in the middle of the city — (it’s) a highly visible location,” said Bill Sabatini, president of the nearby Stronghurst neighborhood association.
The city specifically purchased the land for Solid Waste operations and is currently renovating the on-site building to host the personnel who clean up illegal dump sites and homeless encampments, a spokeswoman for Keller’s office said in an emailed statement.
The proposed safe outdoor space — if it survives the appeal process — would operate under a six-month licensing agreement with a possible six-month renewal and thus not conflict with any potential future uses, spokeswoman Staci Drangmeister said. She noted that safe outdoor space applications must have operations, management and security plans.
“This administration seeks to use publicly owned property to make the greatest positive impact in Albuquerque,” Drangmeister said.
While the city purchased the land, it has not taken other steps necessary to open a transfer station, such as seeking the requisite zone change or the state permit needed for such a facility, Solid Waste spokeswoman Emily Moore said.
Sabatini — who said he, local business owners and others opposing the city’s plans have been meeting for months — said he would like to see the city establish the safe outdoor space and transfer station in another part of town. He said the group believes that a safe outdoor space will bring more people who are homeless to their area. A transfer station, meanwhile, represents a waste of prime real estate, Sabatini said, arguing that the site could be a showcase for Albuquerque given its location near several hotels and two interstates.
“It’s a perfect place to make a positive statement about Albuquerque,” he said.