Based on a Community Services Needs Assessment, the City of Albuquerque has determined that there is a need for a new community center to serve the Singing Arrow, Four Hills, Coronado Terrace, Hidden Valley Singing Arrow, Supper Rock, Estrange/Piedra Vista and Sandia Vista Neighborhoods. The existing Singing Arrow Community Center consists of two portable buildings connected by a CMU block entrance hub and fronted by a partially uncovered portico. Located on the northwest edge of Singing Arrow Park, it provides 5,266 square feet of center space. This accommodates a multipurpose room, a game room, and an office. A third attached portable houses a City Child Development Center and playground. Outside facilities include a multi-use path that crosses the park from west to east, a half basketball court, picnic tables, and planted trees and grass. The facility is old and in need of repair or replacement. The roof leaks, the facilities are substandard compared to newer site built community and multi-generational centers such as Holiday Park and Manzano Mesa. The facility is located in an area that is far from major roads and awkward to access by those who are not immediate neighbors.
In 2013 the City Commissioned a Needs Assessment (see attached link) to determine if the existing community center was adequate for the needs of these neighborhoods. The assessment found that the existing Singing Arrow Community center meets some of the needs for before- and after-school programs and summer programs for lower income school-age children in the area; however, it lacks the capacity to provide programming for adults and older children. A new, expanded facility could serve more families and offer facilities such as a fitness room and classes for adults and teens in the nearby area. The study team also determined that the most promising location for a new Singing Arrow Community Center is at the opposite (eastern) end of the Singing Arrow Park. There is sufficient space at this side of the park and it would be more easily accessed by auto and transit. It would offer “eyes” on the park, contributing to safety, and provide restrooms to facility and park users. Community center users would have access to the Singing Arrow Park as well as the Tijeras Arroyo open space and scenic views of the mountains. This location will work best if the adjacent park-and-ride lot could be acquired and used for access and parking.
Based on the needs assessment, the City purchased the adjacent parking lot and contracted with local architects Cherry See Reames Architects PC in 2016 to design the new community center. The project has requested approval of a Conditional Use in the R-1 Zone to allow the community center.
The mission of the City’s Community Centers is to provide programs that meet community needs, enhance the quality of life and promote community involvement through the provision of recreation, cultural activities, education, health, wellness and fitness activities, as well as family life activities in facilities that are well maintained, accessible and safe.
Some of the components found in Community Centers include: gymnasiums, ceramic rooms, meeting rooms, kitchens, multipurpose activity rooms, weight and fitness rooms, preschool rooms, and restrooms with showers. Community centers are often co-located with parks and outdoor recreational opportunities. Many also offer before and after-school daycare for young students.
The Design Team has developed a conceptual design for the site and building based on the location, community feedback, and needs. As part of the design process and building upon the initial research in the needs assessment, the City analyzed several options for the new center which determined:
- Preferred location is at the northeast corner of the park
- City owned parking lot is adequately sized to meet the needs of the new community center
- Based upon initial feedback from the community, the building was moved as far to the west as possible. We also reviewed the relationship between other community centers and neighboring houses and this location is further away.
- Parking lot will be improved with new landscaping, lighting, and security cameras
- Specific security design features for the project include:
- Building designed to minimize exterior niches and dark corners
- Landscaping away from the building
- New led lighting in parking lot and building
- New Monument Sign on Wenonah Avenue
- Lighting and cameras are designed to work together
- Parking lot may be gated
- Fire and Emergency access provided for with redesigned parking lot
- Entry located with clear view into the parking area
- Reception staffed at the entry to monitor access to the center
- Shower facility is in the Fitness Center, not accessible from the common area
- New task force has been created by the City to address the homelessness and crime issues in the area.
- Locating a community center along with the upgrades discussed will provide a positive impact on crime in the area.
The building has been designed using colors, materials, and design features derived from Albuquerque and the Southwest.
The conceptual building design is sensitive to the location, low profile, and uses high quality materials. Variations in height and massing help to provide interest and keep the taller portions of the building limited only to those areas that need the height. The narrow side of the building toward the neighborhood to minimize visual impacts.
As a result of the project planning efforts, several community issues have been raised. While not necessarily related directly to the community center, these issues include:
- homeless population and crime
- transit – bus staging
- loss of park area (green space) and protection of the archeological resource
The City is implementing a specific “Problem Solving Project” focusing on the Singing Arrow area. The new community center will also bring additional City staff to the site, which will also help in general surveillance of the property.
City staff has also met with transit to address issues regarding bus staging on Wenonah near the project. Transit will address the problem by looking at ways to reduce the number of buses staged and developing alternative locations for bus staging that doesn’t conflict with vehicle and bike lanes on Wenonah.
The new Singing Arrow Community Center will only reduce the amount of green space in the park by 10.4 percent. The location will not adversely impact the archeological site and is compliant with the City’s Archeological Ordinance. Also, the City has and will continue to coordinate with the SHPO if the project moves forward.
In 2011 and 2013, voters approved General Obligation Funds specific to the proposed community center. In 2015, voters approved the repurposing of Metropolitan Redevelopment Bond funding for the center. In addition, the State of New Mexico is also providing State Capital Outlay Funding.