My thoughts about El Oso Grande Park and Neighborhood

After having lived in various places in Albuquerque on and off since the 1960’s, my love for this city and our state has only grown.  I find myself living now in the neighborhood of El Oso Grande Park, located on Osuna Road, just west of John Robert’s Dam on Juan Tabo Blvd.  This vibrant neighborhood is now in danger.

El Oso Grande Park is used by multitudes of soccer teams, youth football leagues, dog walkers, hikers accessing Bear Canyon trails to the east, bikers using the Albuquerque bike trail system, and families for get togethers and picnics.  It’s playground to the east of the sports fields is rarely without parents and children. It’s views of the sunrise and mountains to the east, and the sunsets to the west, cannot be overrated.  

Directly to the east of the park and playground, is a city of Albuquerque designated Pollinator Habitat, a collaborative project among Oso Grande Neighborhood Association, the City, and the Native Plant Society (NPS), and partially funded by PNM Resources Foundation.  It is a place designated to returning the desert to it’s natural flora and fauna habitat.  This beautifully designed complex of tree canopy, park, playground and wildlife habitat is currently bordered to the east by a large area of privately owned mesa, a natural water catchment for heavy rains and a natural safety zone for the earthen dam directly east of it.  The dam, natural water catchment and native mesa, pollinator habitat, playground and park are a well designed cap for the end of the natural corridor of Bear Canyon Arroyo.

And now this beautiful area for outdoor enthusiasts is in danger of being marred by replacing the natural acreage below the dam with a large storage facility that may be given zoning and building approval by the city.  The land that this structure will be built on is the large property directly west of the dam, that serves as a natural catchment area for water, as it is the last natural vestige of Bear Canyon Arroyo.  It may be multistoried, effectively diminishing the incredible views of the Sandias from the park and bike trail.  The many people who climb the dam to sit and watch unforgettable sunsets from the top of the dam will no longer be able to enjoy this pristine view.  

But most importantly, building on this land will will interfere with all the family sports and recreation activities which the City of Albuquerque has good reason to be proud of, a multi-use area for the use of Albuquerque’s diverse population, from infants to disabled to the aged.  It does not make sense to me to build a large commercial building, covering a large water adsorbing natural catchment area, with asphalt and cement, right below an earthen dam!  Our park and many of our houses are already in a FEMA designated flood area, why, in light of today’s climatic environment, would we risk compounding that problem?  I request that AMAFCA engineers and City Planning Department take a look at this property, which would be much better preserved as is, and acquire this land as an extension of the John Robert’s Dam.  Make it happen, Albuquerque! 

Janet Squires

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