• He picks up trash for five hours per day, but it's no mere hobby
  • Detective DAN: What's the status of the Motel 21 property?
  • Detective DAN: Where did all the animals at Third and Coal go?
  • Primary election ends today
He picks up trash for five hours per day, but it's no mere hobby
Michael Gallegos, on the job just north of Rio Grande and I-40.
For six years running, Michael Gallegos has, on a near-daily basis, packed up thick bags and a pair of those plastic grabber gizmos and collected trash on and around Rio Grande, from Central into the Near North Valley, and sometimes on a few other Greater Downtown streets as well.

Terrific, you might think. Nice to see a retiree staying active with a wholesome hobby that gets him out of the house.

Gallegos would chafe at this assessment. He has plenty of other things to do, he says, and he admits to occasionally tiring of the job, but he views trash pickup as a matter of community self-defense - a job that, to his eternal frustration, he believes local government is failing at.

It begins with optics. Whether it's Old Town's tourists or members of his own family coming in from out of town for a visit, "I don't want them to see trash," Gallegos said. "I don't want that impression."

Keep things clean-looking, he reckons, and you'll impress visitors while also deterring a criminal element that is no stranger to Greater Downtown in general and Rio Grande in particular.

"You'll see drug dealing. You'll see people beating the crap out of each other," Gallegos said. "I want to keep those bastards from coming into our area."

Though he has a background in government, including once working as an assistant to the late city councilor and county commissioner Ken Sanchez, he takes a pretty dim view of the whole business, particularly in the high-trash areas along I-40, where the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and the city are all responsible for different bits of territory. 

"I walked past three jurisdictions just now," he said while picking over an area south of the Range Café where the Alameda Drain comes up against I-40. "I don't have a jurisdiction. I just can't stand trash anywhere."

"They're word people," he said of local government. "They're not action people."

"See those signs?" he said, gesturing to a collection of six election candidate posters attached to a fence across Rio Grande. "They had to see the trash. All those signs mean nothing to me."

To be sure, the daily routine of filling roughly five big trash bags is not all frustration. There is an element of fun and satisfaction to it, particularly when he passes a tourist walking a garbage-free street. He also sees the occasional random act of kindness, as when a woman emerged from the Starbucks to deliver a coffee to someone who appeared to be homeless. He often runs into city trash collectors, and there is much convivial comparing of notes about the weight and grip of various grabber tools.

Still, his friends think he's nuts. And his girlfriend: "She thinks I'm nuts, too."

He would not necessarily disagree.

"Being nuts is not a bad thing," Gallegos concluded. "Usually that's where change comes from."
Detective DAN: What's the status of the Motel 21 property?
TOP: The motel, pictured in December of 2018 shortly before demolition. BOTTOM: The view from three months ago. Google Street View
Alert Reader Arthur writes in:

Any update on the Motel 21 site? A quick search of my old email shows you reported some vague plans in February of last year. They appear to be beginning some sort of site prep work, so it looks like something is going on.

Looks can be deceiving, it seems.

The site (Central near New York Avenue) is owned by Chad Rennaker, the man behind the El Vado renovation, the Monterey Motel renovation, and the Monterey Place apartments going up across the street. For those hoping that it becomes something other than a vacant lot, the good news is that it's definitely on his agenda. The bad news is that it won't be anytime soon and specifics for what might go there are TBD.

"We are storing materials at the site for the Monterey Place," Rennaker told DAN. "I’m probably a year away from starting to look at the Motel 21 site."
Detective DAN: Where did all the animals at Third and Coal go?
They have relocated to a camp near Cloudcroft.
Alert Reader Patricia writes in about a recent stroll around Greater Downtown:

On my way back home from Bosque Baking, I passed by the house on the southwest corner of Third and Coal to say hello to the chickens, the bunnies, and, of course, the pigs. But the yard was completely empty with no sign at all of my favorite Albuquerque urban farm animals. Do you know what happened?

The house turns out to be the property of the nearby First United Methodist Church, and Business Manager Lisa Perko confirmed that it is used by clergy there - a modern parsonage.

Though he didn't return messages seeking comment, First United Pastor Jon Moore announced a leave of absence on February 20. According to his Facebook page, he has relocated to tiny Sacramento, New Mexico (near Cloudcroft) to take a job as facilities manager for the Sacramento Camp and Conference Center, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Moore and his wife, Melanie Daves Moore, met in Sacramento, and their nine children "have spent many happy hours" there, Jon reported in one post.

The pastor also posted the above photo and reported that the assembled animals were also happy in their new and decidedly more rural home.

Send your questions to Detective DAN here.
Primary election concludes today
Poll sites are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and include the Clerk's Annex (Fifteenth and Lomas), 
Albuquerque High, Duranes Elementary, Garfield Middle School (Near North Valley), the Herman Sanchez Community Center (South Broadway), and Washington Middle School (Raynolds). You can drop off vote-by-mail ballots at those locations as well. Information on the candidates, via the League of Women Voters, is here.
Word of mouth helps DAN grow
If you know someone who might like Downtown Albuquerque News, feel free to forward them an issue or two. If someone outside your household forwarded this to you, please consider subscribing.
Downtown Albuquerque News covers Downtown, Old Town, and surrounding neighborhoods. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
Copyright © 2022 Downtown Albuquerque News, All rights reserved.

Manage your subscription here.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Downtown Albuquerque News · PO Box 1203 · Albuquerque, NM 87103 · USA