BERNALILLO — As demand for outdoor recreation continues to grow, Bernalillo officials want to accommodate residents in a way that makes sense for everyone.
One possible idea has emerged — more walking paths. The topic came up in the town’s draft comprehensive economic development plan.
“Anybody can use walking paths. It’s not age-required,” Bernalillo Economic and Community Development Director Mike Kloeppel said.
Fifty-nine percent of residents said in a recent poll they want Bernalillo to focus on expanding such recreational avenues. Walking paths are “low-hanging fruit” because they’re more feasible, Kloeppel said.
“The town owns some property that we can actually put a walking path on,” he said.
There’s still infrastructure factors to keep in mind, though.
Walking paths can’t be established in spots where they cut through neighborhoods, Kloeppel said. The town also must make sure it has available land and that the paths are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to make one of those things happen,” Kloeppel said.
Kloeppel said most of the traffic construction along U.S. 550 should be complete by August, which could help make more stretches of town more pedestrian-friendly to get some walking in.
Additionally, offering other activities such as playing cornhole would have a similar impact to incorporating walking paths, Kloeppel said.
“You can open that up to more people, and those are all outdoor recreation,” he said. “By doing certain things, you can include more people in the town to have outdoor recreation.”
If the matter is approved by the Bernalillo Town Council, Kloeppel said town officials would look to obtain infrastructure grant money to add walking paths. The timing to get those projects underway would also depend on how high of a priority it would be within the funding cycle compared to something like road work.
“We try to work around all of those to implement as much of this plan as we can,” Kloeppel said.