Friday, January 23, 2009

UNM & Golf & Planning

When it last hit the fan over the fate of the University of New Mexico's North Golf Course, I argued that the only way to preserve the golf course for what it is—a multi-use community open space—was to get the area under different ownership. My rationale was that UNM, being a large organization, would always want to "do something" with the space. A meeting last night confirmed that judgment. The was called by the North Campus Neighborhood Association, which borders the golf course on the east and north. A crowd of about 80 filled the meeting room, a classroom at UNM's law school, which tucks into a corner of the golf course.
What follows is a bit long. And we only stayed an hour. When we left, the meeting probably had two hours to go.
The first part of the agenda was a presentation of the new UNM master plan, a work in progress but well along from what we could tell. Tobias Flato of Dekker Perich Sabatini got to present the plan. That meant he got the first reaction from the crowd, which always seems crabby when the golf course and the university are mentioned together. Not that, over time, the neighborhood has had anything other than ample reason to doubt the university. Flato introduced the plan as a "framework" a flexible sounding word. Except some things are cast in stone. One is adding what Flato called a new reservoir, which seemed to mean a large water tank and well, in the center of the golf course in a space now occupied by maintenance buildings. The crowd immediately jumped this idea. Let's see, came the reaction, the city of Albuquerque has just spent a gazillion dollars get off well water. What's the deal? The deal is money, came the reply. UNM, now partly using city water, ants to go entirely to well water because it will cost much less for UNM to run its own water system. And the aquifer, some wondered. Follow the money, I guess.
The crowd also doubted plans to move the Bernalillo County mental health center, now located on Marble, just west of Vassar. The doubt was less the fact of the proposed move as it was of the location, to what are called the "barren fairways," immediately west of the green part of the golf course. The relocated facility would go into what will become even more of a pedestrian area, people commented. Also, the neighborhood generally considers the barren fairways part of the golf course. The audience also wasn't thrilled at the idea of extending Camino de Salud across University Blvd and the food control ditch and up the hill to across the new mental health center. For sure, though, something has to be done about the existing mental health center which is long past merely showing its age.
The audience was also surprise by announcement of plans for a new, 450-bed hospital. The good news was that UNM's Health Sciences folks have been persuaded to move the site from Yale and Lomas, where massive congestion would result, to vacant land between Lomas and Indian School Road and east of I-25.
The new roundabout trasffic circle just north of Yale and Lomas came in for some pointed criticism from bicyclists. It is confusing and dangerous, the critics said. Cars have the same issues with the traffic circle, but no one mentioned that.

No comments: