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The two parts of Coronado Park look set to meet very different fates

Coronado Park, looking north to I-40. The before photo, from Google Street View, is from the spring of 2016. The bottom photo is from last week.
One year ago, city officials debuted this mockup of the layout of the future expanded fire station and first responder training center that is to be located at the site (we’ve added the labels). Former City Councilor Isaac Benton, who passed legislation to include a half-acre park within the plan (DAN, 5/23/23), dismissed the layout of the greenspace in this design as “some veggies growing around the perimeter,” adding that “it doesn’t really look to me like a park.” AFR Chief Emily Jaramillo subsequently told councilors that the diagram was a hastily arranged concept and by no means a final design.
As of March, however, the design presented to neighbors was basically unchanged and the plans for the half-acre park were not finalized.
As the plans for what was once the main part of Coronado Park proceed, details on just who is looking to buy the dog park and why have not been disclosed.

May 21, 2024

The last bits of evidence that the main section of Coronado Park was once a park at all are getting harder and harder to find. The skateboarding jumps are gone. So are the trees. There are still a couple of old tables and garbage cans in their former posts, but passersby on Third Street must look through a tall new wrought iron fence to see them.

But cross the street and, at least for the moment, Coronado Dog Park looks the same as it ever was. Though just across Third from the site of a notorious homeless encampment shuttered nearly two years ago, the dog area largely avoided the sort of crime and other drama that Mayor Tim Keller cited when he ordered the closure of the main section of the park.

That better reputation, however, may not help it survive as a park either. Legislation that would clear the way for the greenspace to be sold passed a City Council committee last week and is now headed to the full body.

“The location is awkward given that it is positioned between two high-speed roadways,” Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Simon told the committee. “There’s been some interest in the property and we felt like that was something that was worth exploring.”

Simon didn’t elaborate on just who might be interested in the property or why. When asked by Councilor Louie Sanchez what area residents thought of the sale idea, he said the department had heard “mixed views” on the matter, including concern from some who “would prefer not to lose the dog park.”

The Wells Park Neighborhood Association, for its part, has come out against the sale. The group’s president, Doreen McKnight, said in late March that she was “extremely disappointed this is even being discussed and with no notice to or input from the community whatsoever … The city has already taken Coronado Park from the community and we were promised that the dog park would remain. The city needs to reinvest in the dog park and make it more accessible, not close and sell it.”

Sanchez ultimately voted against the legislation, as did Councilor Dan Champine. Councilors Tammy Fiebelkorn, Klarissa Peña, and Dan Lewis voted in favor.

As the fate of the dog park works its way to the full City Council, planners are busy figuring out the design of the expanded fire station and first responder training center that is to go in what was once the main park area. Officials told a preliminary neighborhood meeting in March that detailed plans were slated to be submitted to the city’s Environmental Planning Commission this month.

Meanwhile, the design of a half-acre park to be located within the campus (itself a matter of controversy – see diagrams above) looks to have taken a back seat. AFR Deputy Chief Alejandro Marrufo told the meeting that the park was “still an item that we’re talking about.”

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