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Friday, October 26, 2007

North Campus Meeting to Discuss Alternatives to UNM Golf Course Development


Stung by the University of New Mexico's aggressive pursuit of a retirement village development on UNM's North Golf Course ­after assurances in April from Acting UNM President David Harris that there were no development plans, the North Campus Neighborhood Association has called a meeting to be held at 5:00 PM on October 28 to form an action plan. The meeting will be in Room 2401 of the UNM Law School, 1117 Stanford NE in Albuquerque, which adjoins the course.

"The University in public and private meetings has repeatedly said they had no plans to develop the golf course. But last week we learned about a plan that would eat up two thirds of the existing UNM North Golf Course," said neighborhood association president Sara Koplik. "This plan does not value the multiple benefits of the course, which is really Albuquerque¹s Central Park. It's the People's Course -- affordable, centrally located and popular with the golfing public, but also used extensively by birders, runners, dog-walkers and nature lovers of all kinds."

UNM issued a request for information in February soliciting interest in commercial development of multiple properties in its real estate portfolio, including the North Golf Course. It announced plans to proceed with more detailed discussion with Co-operative Retirement Services of America (CRSA) and JP Morgan Chase for a "continuing life care community" dubbed Lobo Village. Preliminary plans posted on the university web site show the North Golf Course shrunk to a so-called "executive course" with buildings and parking lots consuming what is now open, green space.

"The neighborhood does not oppose a retirement village. But UNM owns ample undeveloped lands that are more suitable for development ­ and wouldn't lay siege to a natural jewel in the heart of the city," Koplik said. Lands owned by UNM include the Elks Lodge on University, car dealerships along the south side of Lomas and a swath of undeveloped parcels called Lands West, located west of University Boulevard.

North Campus is not the only neighborhood unhappy with the plan, Koplik said. Other adjacent neighborhoods, many environmental and civic groups and community leaders have taken positions opposed to development on the North Golf Course.

A link to the university¹s plan is available here by clicking on UNM Real Estate Projects and then Lobo Village. Further information is also available at NeighborsForGreenSpace.com.

JkochPast Protest and Jamie Koch's Responses
About 700 people showed up in February to protest the retirement project at the golf course and signed a petition against the proposed development. Back then the President of the UNM Board of Regents, Jamie Koch (right), had this to say, which bolsters the criticism that the forces behind the development have been less than honest about what's going on:

In a Feb. 20 e-mail from Jamie Koch, president of the board of regents, he claimed the university is not looking to turn the area into a retirement center, something that was briefly discussed during the regents' January meeting.

"I'd like to make it perfectly clear at this time that the university has no plans to build a retirement community for alumni or faculty on any property the university owns," he wrote. "I've repeatedly said that the UNM North Golf Course has not been discussed by the regents nor has there been any request from university personnel for use of the golf course for a retirement community."

More recently, Jamie Koch changed his tune, despite the fact that the retirement community would displace a new Appeals Court building approved for construction near the UNM Law School:

"We’re very interested in working with the community, but we are going to try to move ahead with a retirement community, maintaining the golf course,” Jamie Koch, president of the UNM regents, said this week.

Koch said as part of the project, he would like the university to find a new site for the planned state Court of Appeals building now slated to be built near the UNM Law School. A groundbreaking had been projected for early 2008.

... Regents previously had signed off on the courthouse location. “I think we need to get out of the deal on the courthouse,” Koch said, stressing that he was speaking for himself and not the full board. He said UNM could find other land for the courthouse.

Appeals Court Judge Michael Bustamante said he didn’t know how a change in the location might affect the project. “We have a Board of Regents resolution in place that they passed last year … allowing or giving us the space that we’re planning for,” Bustamante said. “That’s still in place, and we’re currently working on the form of lease.”

Koch also claims he wants to replace a signficant portion of the golf course to save water. Conveniently, he doesn't reveal how much water the new development would use.

Regent Contact Info and Related Stories

Click for contact info for the UNM Board of Regents, including President Jamie Koch.

Check these out for more info on this issue:

October 26, 2007 at 11:34 AM in Education, Environment, Local Politics | Permalink


All one has to do is FOLLOW THE MONEY! The regents of the UNM are mostly all former Democratic party honchos appointed by the governor, no doubt as payback along the way. There's hardly a trace of academia in their collective resumes. They are all well connected politically, and in a state where building anything is an adventure in friends, no doubt someone stands to gain monetarily by these deals in some way. The $2-3 million gain this retirement home would add, and the change in water use, is paltry. Something's rotten in Denmark, as my mum would say.

Why should UNM be in the retirement biz anyhow? And couldn't this be done on the eyesore land UNM owns already on Lomas?

Posted by: Random | Oct 28, 2007 1:33:40 PM

I have walked that course countless times. This breaks my heart. Short-sighted greedy idiots.

Posted by: qofdisks | Oct 29, 2007 8:41:16 PM

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