A controversial plan by Albuquerque Public Schools to place a bus depot in Tijeras has been scuttled.
“Based on our conversation with [Bernalillo] County and community feedback, we felt it was in the best interest of all to find a new place to locate the depot,” wrote Gabriella Durán Blakey, chief operations officer for APS in an email to The Independent. “That being said, it is still critical we find a space to build a bus depot that will safely and efficiently transport students to and from our schools in the East Mountain community.”
“I really am grateful to APS for doing the right thing, and not wasting taxpayers’ time and money dragging things out in a lawsuit,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, whose district includes the East Mountains. She added, “Going to court is not cheap.”
The proposal would have located a bus depot for parking up to 50 buses, as well as facilities for washing them, offices and more.
Nearby residents said they were blindsided by the plan, but quickly organized and hired an attorney to protect the neighborhood from what they saw as a bad fit for the area, and a potential damage to groundwater.
In addition, the property has a protective covenant, which says the land can only be used for an elementary school.
“The legal case seemed pretty airtight to me,” Pyskoty said, “that the land would be used solely for an elementary school or revert back to housing. … The community just came together.”
Lisa Davis is president of the East Mountain District 5 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, representing 35 neighborhood associations in the East Mountain area.
The Coalition wrote a letter to the school board March 3 opposing the depot on behalf of its members.
“The property in question is currently zoned A1, and is protected by neighborhood covenants,” the letter says in part. “A bus depot is completely out of character for this location, and will adversely affect property values.”
The Coalition also said there has been no environmental impact study for the project and added, “We are also very disappointed that there has been no attempt at eliciting public input for a project of this nature and scope that will be funded with taxpayer dollars.”
“We are open to suggestions with the county on possible areas this facility may be built which will provide jobs to the community and safely transport our children,” Durán Blakey wrote.
“Just to reiterate, going forward, I really want to be a part of this process and bring in all the stakeholders, from the county, our environmental regulatory boards, …. and the community—everybody needs to be a part of this from the beginning.”