The City has now revealed what its public process will be for the extension of its trail north of I-40 to Campbell Road this winter. As you probably know by now, the administration reneged on its agreement to follow a process that had been negotiated and agreed to by the administration, the Sierra Club, and the Bosque Action Team. This agreement would have provided for two public meetings and two thirty-day comment periods.
First, the City will continue to take comments on what alternatives should be considered for a few more days. As of last Wednesday, the City stated that it had received about twenty written comments. If you have not already done so, please submit your comments ASAP. An email sent out recently on alternative comments is copied in below.
The Administration will then accept extremely limited public comment on alternatives. There are two issues with the trail: the design – that is, the width of the trail and materials of which it will be constructed – and the route of the trail. The Administration will not be taking comments on the trail design. The Administration has predetermined that issue with no public input. The trail will be a six foot wide, crusher fine trail. It is outrageous that the Administration does not care what its citizens think about this issue and that this issue is entirely off the table. This is a major issue about which there are different opinions. Please write to the Mayor and insist that the City accept comment on the issue of trail design.
The City will hold a public meeting on January 7 at Los Duranes Community Center, 2920 Leopoldo Rd NW, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. At that time, they will present alternative routes and take comments for one hour. The City will then allow an eight-day comment period, until January 15, during which comments that are received will be fully considered. The City states that comments can continue to be submitted until the end of the month, but there is no guarantee that they will be considered at all. Eight days is a wholly inadequate period for public comment.
The indications are that the alternatives that will be presented will include a "no action" alternative, construction of a trail along the present route that mostly hugs the river bank after the first quarter mile, and various alternatives that move the trail away from the river bank and into the center of the Bosque at various points along the present trail.
Please plan on attending the public meeting on January 7 and on offering your comments on the trail. The City needs to know that this issue has not been forgotten and that Albuquerque citizens continue to care about keeping the Bosque a great place to enjoy nature!
The City is presently devising alternatives for the extension of the Bosque trail from I-40 to Montaño. Matt Schmader, the director of the Open Space Division, has stated that the alternatives will be based on the comments he receives. Please send your comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The City is presently working on the alternatives, so please do this as soon as you can!
Here are some issues you might wish to address:
- The administration has stated that the trail will be a six foot wide, crusher fine trail, the same as the first trail section. It appears that it has thus pre-decided this issue prior to public comment. However, this is not an issue that should be off the table. It should be subject to alternatives. Please tell the administrations that alternative trail designs should be presented.
For instance, an alternative to crusher fines is a compacted natural surface trail that is amended to harden it where it is sandy and add sand where necessary to prevent ponding of rainwater. We’ve found on our monthly wheelchair outings that hard-packed trails can be easier to navigate than crusher fines. This should be subject to discussion. An alternative to a six foot wide trail might be a narrower trial, maybe three or four feet wide, with periodic wider turnouts, which would maintain a more natural feel while at the same time allowing users of the trail to pass one another easily. The views of the accessibility community should have great weight here, but these alternatives should be on the table for discussion.
- As the trail enters the Bosque north of the I-40 bridge, there is a section that adjoins a bank lowering project done some years ago by the Interstate Stream Commission that contains excellent habitat. (Bank lowering brings the ground closer to the water table and gives an advantage to native plants like willows.) After about a quarter mile, the area where the bank has been lowered becomes very narrow, and the trail is right next to the vegetation that has grown in the lowered area. Moving the trail a short distance away from river, but still in view of the river, in this section would provide more isolation for birds that may use the restored habitat in this narrow area along the bank, while maintaining a view of the river for users of the trail.
- The north part of this section is a narrow trail through a fairly dense over-story of cottonwoods and exotics like Russian olive. From the comments on the City's walks, people really like this section, because it is a narrow and intimate space within sight of the river. This section presents a conflict. On the one hand, we want access for people in wheelchairs. On the other hand, we want to maintain the intimate experience of the trail as it presently exists. Expanding it to a wider, multi-use trail would necessary damage that experience, as a comparison of this trail with the already constructed trail along the river south of I-40 shows.
Some people would like to leave this trail as is and construct a groomed trail to the east, away from the river bank. A compromise solution might be to leave the multi-use trail next to the river for the southerly half or so of this section. The Bosque then enters a stretch where there is a Cottonwood gallery filling the entire Bosque from the river to the levee. The multi-use trail could be moved away from the bank and into the gallery, which would still be a really nice walk (or roll).
- If you believe there should be a "no action" alternative, please also address that in your comments.
Please get your comments into email@example.com as soon as possible so that they will be considered as the City devises alternatives!