“My house is on fire! Glad we have a sportsplex”
Charlie Pabst, Special to ProgressNowNM
As part of Monday’s last-minute budget wrangling by the Albuquerque City Council, the body struck down an amendment to add a new fire rescue truck to the city’s West Side, which already lacks emergency services.
The truck would have been added to Fire Station 21, near Cibola High School, to provide emergency medical assistance to people in the area.
The cost- $180,000-would have spoken for 0.0003% of the proposed $423 million budget. The money would be spent on a specific need: Helping people suffering from life-or-death medical conditions.
Led by Republican members of the council, they voted to keep nearly all of $3 million Mayor Richard Berry wants to set aside for unspecified projects.
Berry has suggested using some of that money to build “fun” things, including a massive sports complex, creating canals for kayaking along the Rio Grande, and luring tourists to Central Avenue under a “Route 66” brand.
The city already owns an unused ladder truck waiting to be sent to the West Side. It just needs the staff to operate it.
In June of last year, Albuquerque’s fire chief requested to move a group of firefighters being replaced by county firefighters to a station West of the river. Berry, instead, eliminated those positions.
At the time, Fire Chief James Breen said the lack of the ladder truck is a public safety need and there is a gap in coverage for West Side residents. That gap remains.
The ladder truck is crucial in fighting a fire in any home or business. The roof access they provide offers firefighters protection so they may enter a building to look for people inside.
They allow ventilation that allows gases, smoke and other hazards that put the lives of firefighters working on the ground at risk.
Thank goodness the mayor’s house is safe. Is yours?
Earlier this year, Berry thanked councilors for bringing a new rescue unit to service residents of the Foothills and Four Hills, where he resides. That truck was paid for with a capital fund, which Berry now wants to spend on canals for kayaking and developing the pristine bosque.
Before that truck was in place, emergency personnel had to come from as far as 4 miles away. The fire station servicing Taylor Ranch covers over 37 square miles.
The mayor gets a new rescue truck, but West Side residents get a bike trail so they can ride across the river in the hopes to get better emergency protection.
When Berry proposed the capital projects, he said they were “just to have fun,” and funding for things like stop signs wouldn’t be affected.