The Conservation Beat
4:41 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Rio Rancho Explores Possibility of Adding Open Space

In a newly released ranking of city park systems, Albuquerque came in 11th, just below major metropolises like Seattle and Philadelphia.  Meanwhile,  environmental advocates in Rio Rancho say its time their city starting trying to catch up.

In terms of developed parkland-- that is, space including amenities like basketball courts and swing sets-- Rio Rancho isn’t doing that badly.   The city boasts 3.5 acres of developed parkland per thousand residents, compared to Albuquerque's 5.5.

That's largely due to a city ordinance requiring developers to include parks in their plans.  Where Rio Rancho falls short is exactly where Albuquerque excels...in setting aside bigger swaths of land as undeveloped open space.

When open space is factored into the equation, Albuquerque's grand total comes to 61 acres of parkland per thousand residents.  Rio Rancho's is just six.  

But people like Elena Kayak are working to change that.  She's the Energy and Environment Specialist for Rio Rancho Public Schools and would like to see at least one open space area within a ten minute walk of every one of Rio Rancho's 19 schools. 

She's been working to drum up support for the idea since February.  While she says she's heard a lot of enthusiasm from public officials, she realizes that it will be a long slog given the current economic climate.

At the same time, Jay Hart, Director of Rio Rancho's Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, says the city is in talks with the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority about the possibility of managing some 20,000 acres of undeveloped land as part of a future Rio Rancho Open Space system.