The Beginnings: History of the Paradise Hills Community Center
by JoAnn B. Anders
The Paradise Hills Civic Association is the original neighborhood homeowners association in this area of Bernalillo County and from the beginning we have worked closely with the Bernalillo County Parks and Recreation Department to develop the Paradise Hills Community Center. We helped secure funding from the New Mexico State Legislature for the construction of a permanent building for community recreational use in the late 1980’s. These funds along with State funds the County had previously received for the construction of a County Senior Center in the Paradise Hills Neighborhood enabled the County to plan and construct the original Community Center building.
The original Paradise Hills Multipurpose Community Center as it was called then, was planned and constructed for use by community members of all ages. The building included an industrial kitchen so that the Senior Lunch Program could use the large meeting room during the day.
During the evening hours the facility was used by a number of diverse aged groups from the Senior Bridge Card Club and the Paradise Hills Community Theater to aerobics classes, computer education classes and crafts classes. We also had summer youth and afterschool programs for our kids, who mostly attended Sierra Vista Elementary School, the only public school in the area at that time.
After the City of Albuquerque annexed the surrounding undeveloped land and more intensive residential development began in the mid 1990’s, we led efforts by the growing community to lobby the State Legislature for funding of a full size gymnasium, that would include a workout room with weight equipment and a kiln room for ceramic arts. Once again we were successful and the gym with adjoining rooms were constructed. Our Community Theater could now perform with a portable stage in the gym, we could fire our ceramic arts locally, the weight equipment was used by older youth and adults, organized varied age group basketball now had a local facility, and the Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra could perform inside instead of out in the park
Through efforts in the last few years, we were also able to secure the purchase, by Bernalillo County, of the adjoining Episcopal Church property to the west and the original annex building. The existing building was to be used for the Preschool program, after school older youth programs, and evening adult meetings. Recent remodeling of this annex building allows for a new Senior Meal Site and additional activity rooms for older youth and senior citizens.