Iron Horse draws complaints from surrounding neighborhood

Courier photo by John Waters The Iron Horse apartments, located at 821 Maroon Dr., Alamosa.

ALAMOSA — Information recently obtained from the Alamosa Police Department (APD) shows that the Iron Horse, a newly constructed 40-unit apartment complex on the north side of Alamosa, has generated a disproportionately high number of police calls, confirming complaints voiced on social media and elsewhere by residents in the area.

The complaints largely came from residents in the surrounding neighborhood homes but also included a few complaints from people renting apartments located in the Iron Horse complex, located at 821 Maroon Drive. For the most part, claims were focused on how often APD had to be called to the site and allegations of illegal drug activity taking place on the premises.

Others cited concerns about the proximity of the Iron Horse to Alamosa High School, which is directly across the street.

The Valley Courier reached out to APD Chief Ken Anderson, requesting specific data on how many times and for what reason police officers have been dispatched to the complex. The data provided shows that from Sept. 11, 2022, when Iron Horse was first issued its certificate of occupancy, to April 14, 2023, there were 114 times APD officers were called to the apartment complex.

Chief Anderson said the bulk of those 114 calls have been received in the last two to three months when the complex was at full occupancy.

When asked how 114 calls in that period compared to other sites where APD is frequently dispatched, Anderson said the Iron Horse generates “a lot of calls” and is “second only to Walmart.”

When asked how the call volume generated by the Iron Horse compares to other large housing complexes, such as Century Mobile Home Park or Tierra Nueva, Anderson said those other areas generate significantly fewer calls.

“There’s no comparison,” he said.

Of those 114 calls for service, seven resulted in arrests; 12 were related to narcotics; 16 were calls for Emergency Medical Services – some, Anderson said, related to potential overdose, 10 were for welfare checks, and five were for harassment/assaults and domestic disputes.

A total of 50 calls were designated as “miscellaneous." When asked for an example of what a “miscellaneous” call could involve, he cited someone saying they lost their bike.

When providing the information to the Valley Courier, Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks — who emailed the document — wrote, “The Chief has made contact with the onsite manager to learn more about what is going on at the complex. He was also provided the name of the supervisor responsible for the background checks and will be making contact with them soon.”

In a subsequent email, Brooks provided an update.

“The Chief has made contact with the corporate office and is very impressed with their responsiveness,” Brooks stated. “They are working with us to change their background checks and report any suspicious activity more regularly. They are also taking steps to address several tenants that seem to be creating issues. We have high hopes that going forward, things will improve. “

This week, Chief Anderson confirmed to the Valley Courier that he has made contact with the corporate office, which is located in Idaho, and has provided some specific advice on how to conduct more thorough background checks. He also plans to follow up with the manager on-site.

During that same conversation, Anderson was asked how much of a police officer’s time each of the calls specified in the data typically requires.

“It depends,” he said. The “simpler” calls — like a lost bike — probably take no more than half an hour.

But the more serious calls, which make up more than half the calls received through mid-April, can take several hours and, if an arrest is involved, top five hours after taking statements, making the arrest of a suspect, transporting the individual and completing the paperwork that follows.

When asked how APD has been impacted, Anderson said, “(Iron Horse) has put a strain on our resources, and we’re already strained. Hopefully, improved background checks and the other suggestions I made will help to improve the situation.”