Tingley Beach---A Brief History

Tingley Beach was built in the early 1930s in a joint project between the City of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), as a blight and mosquito improvement project (the area had become a sewer-like dump). Water was diverted from the river via the ditch system. The land was owned by MRGCD and leased to the City for operation for $1 per year. The Beach, a linear lake, included extensive swimming and diving facilities, bath houses, and an island in the center of the South end, with fishing in the Northern end. A big draw was the speed boat races around the island. The area was very popular (8 lifeguards) until the late forties when attendance declined because of a Polio scare. The area was then closed until 1952 when a small lake was isolated by a dam and fed with well water. This too was closed to swimming in late '52. The water area North of the dam extending to Central avenue was neglected and deteriorated. The model boaters shared the South lake, whenever possible, with fishermen who did not want to share the water---rocks were sometimes thrown at the boats.

The City built the Botanic Gardens and Aquarium in the 90's, funded by a 1/4% "Quality of Life" sales tax that also allowed the Aquatic Park to be planned. In '94 the MRGCD reneged on the Dollar per year land lease (renewed in '90 for 25 years), feeling they were not getting a fair return on the property. The City sued to acquire the property, and after three years of legal battles and negotiations, obtained the 40 acres North of Central and 26 Acres South of Central (Tingley Beach) for about $3.9 M. The negotiations included condemning the Beach as a "blighted area".

The US Corps of Engineers then cooperated with the City in a "Bosque Restoration Project". The Corps funded the fishing and wildlife lakes while the City funded redesign of Tingley Drive, the Model Boat Pond construction, and the railroad tying the Biopark areas together. Construction began in March 2004, and the Fishing lakes were opened October 2005. The Model Boat Pond was completed in July 2006, but budget problems had deleted the water filtering system, shade structures, and parking areas from the original design.

The Tingley Beach Model Boat Pond Aquatic Park Overall

Model Boat Pond Construction Photos

  • BEFORE, February 2005
  • CLOSE, but not yet, April 6,06
  • DONE, but dry. June 15,06
  • OPEN, July 8, 2006