Belen business owner adopts and cleans up Anna Becker Park

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Wanting to make a difference in his community and in his neighborhood, a Belen businessman is getting involved in making sure a local park is clean for children and families.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Robert Noblin, center, owner of Noblin Funeral Service in Belen, adopted Anna Becker Park and organized a five-hour clean up of the property on Saturday.

Robert Noblin, owner of Noblin Funeral Service in Belen, adopted Anna Becker Park and organized employees and friends for a large-scale cleanup Saturday of the historic property just west of his business.

With rakes, shovels and hoes, about 25 people took to the park to make sure everyone can enjoy and be proud of the largest park in the Hub City.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Gloria Miller, office manager of Noblin Funeral Service in Belen, rakes up weeds in the playground of Anna Becker Park

For nearly five hours, the crew, decked out in bright blue matching T-shirts, braved the hot weather and went to work. Noblin said not only did they pick up trash and cut weeds, but they also found several hypodermic needles scattered around the park.

“The park has needed a lot of TLC for a long time, and I know the city hasn’t had a lot of money to maintain it,” Noblin said of his reasons why he decided to adopt and take care of the park.

“It’s right beside our business and we have a lot of families who like to use the park for events, receptions or balloon releases, so we just wanted it to be nice for the community.”

Noblin said the majority of the clean up on Saturday consisted of pulling up a lot of weeds, cleaning trash and cigarette butts. The volunteers, who consisted of his employees, friends and even Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova, also helped clean up the star-shaped flower bed and getting it repainted and ready to replant. The sand volleyball pit was also given a bit of a cleaning.

Earlier this year, the Belen City Council had denied a zone change request by Noblin on his property in order to build a crematorium. A number of residents in the neighborhood voiced their concerns that it wasn’t a good fit for the area.

The majority of the council agreed, and denied Noblin’s request. In response to the council’s decision, he filed an appeal in district court, claiming the city council’s decision to deny a zone change was not “supported by substantial evidence.” The appeal says the city “arbitrarily and capriciously” acted “outside the scope of its authority and not in accordance to law.”

Noblin said while a lot of neighbors talked about the park and how valuable it was to them during the crematory debate, he decided to be proactive and “do what needed to be done” to make it a nicer place for the neighbors.

In the future, Noblin said he will organize smaller cleanups at Anna Becker Park, and he hopes others will get involved as well.

“Belen has a lot of nice parks that really are good places for families to get together and I’d like to see them all get cleaned up,” he said.

Taking a break from digging out weeds, Mayor Cordova thanked Noblin for his efforts and dedication to the park.

“It’s incredibly important to have buy-in from the community and the support of the community,” Cordova said. “We have to care for our parks, our streets and general properties in town.

“This was well coordinated,” he added. “Robert Noblin has been a huge supporter of the city of Belen and Anna Becker Park and I appreciate it.”


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.