After weeks of debate, analysis and public comment-laden with controversy, the City of Albuquerque announced March 13 that the University of New Mexico has withdrawn its land from consideration for a possible Gateway Center location.
The lot in question is University property off of the I-25 Frontage Road and Lomas Boulevard and was among three finalists — the other two locations between the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson and Coronado Park — that expressed interest in housing Albuquerque’s first-ever low-barrier, rehabilitative shelter to be open every hour of the day.
All three locations were considered due to their proximity to medical and transportation services as well as their affordability within the city’s $14 million budget approved by voters last fall.
The University’s decision comes after its Campus Safety Council voted 11-1 against the shelter, citing strained police resources, hampered student safety and the possibility of a subsequent decline in enrollment as reasons for its overwhelming disapproval. With this recommendation in mind, President Garnett Stokes and the Board of Regents were tasked with making the ultimate decision regarding UNM’s involvement in the Gateway Center project.
According to a press release sent out earlier today, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is planning to collaborate with elected officials from the University on how to support the center in its eventual location and work through its logistics (including design, construction and operation).
“With this option now off the table, we are convening elected officials from the City and County, as well as UNM, to work with us on the remaining options, or a possible combination of sites,” Keller said. “We are continuing our collaborative efforts, and also dedicated to doing all we can with the funds we have to make a dent in all of our homelessness challenges.”
According to the same press release, the University expressed a potential willingness to provide resources and service provisions to the Center upon its construction and is even considering housing a smaller shelter for women and children only.
UNM President Garnett Stokes said of the matter, “Although the use of UNM land for the Gateway Center is not a viable option for us, we will continue to work closely with our partners to serve vulnerable populations and improve Albuquerque’s national reputation as a great city in which to work, live and play.”
Beatrice Nisoli is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BeatriceNisoli