In February, the City Council approved a conceptual plan to spend about $95,500 to patrol public spaces on the city-owned land from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
A contract approved Tuesday night by the city Public Works Committee would give the funds and the responsibility to hire and oversee the private security effort to the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp.
The nonprofit leases the Railyard from the city and manages developments and events there. The contract requires approval by the full City Council before it becomes final.
The idea to hire security guards for the property stems from a 2011 council order for city staff to consider such a plan in light of reports of violence and public drunkenness at the Railyard. People who live nearby and users of the Railyard Park complained about questionable behaviors, including drug use and lewd acts.
If everything moves along as expected, private security would be in place by the third week of June, said Richard Czoski, the nonprofit’s executive director.
Having private security doesn’t mean city police will stop patrolling the Railyard Park, according to a memo from Police Chief Ray Rael. He wrote that the city plans to provide a new patrol there from noon through midnight on weekends between May and August.
In addition to the plans to put more enforcers on the ground, a city working group this year also recommended changes to city ordinances that could help combat the public drunkenness issue, including an amendment that councilors already adopted that stiffened rules about carrying an open container of alcohol in a public place not licensed to serve or sell alcohol. Other suggestions from the group include limiting sales of on-the-go alcoholic beverages such as “minis” and cold single beers, and hiking the city tax on alcohol to use the money for drug and alcohol treatment.
The committee rejected a proposal to give the Railyard Corp. $7,000 to pay electrical and mechanical engineers to design a snowmelt system under the historic brick platform outside the Santa Fe Depot. The committee instead advised city staff to find a “low-tech” solution such as a shelter structure or hiring temporary workers to shovel snow.
Meanwhile, the city this month closed on its real-estate deal to become the official owner of part of the Market Station building.
The purchase of a condominium interest in the top floor of the partly empty commercial building was approved by the City Council in late April as part of a settlement that ended a threat of litigation from the private owners of the rest of the building.
Consummation of the transaction also means that a partner in the development, Railyard Co. LLC, no longer is leasing an adjoining parcel of land slated for development of a movie theater.
The community corporation has been talking with two potential movie theater developers in recent weeks and will conduct a formal appraisal of the theater parcel to establish what it might be able to charge for a ground lease under current market conditions. Czoski said the nonprofit hopes to have a deal in place by September.
The city plans to move offices to the Railyard from a rented space on Federal Place, across from City Hall, but first has to finish the interior of the new space. City Manager Robert Romero said the move isn’t expected to happen for about a year.