Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
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Laundromat

New dryers at the new La Plaza Laundromat are connected to a state-of-the-art central computer that contains a programmed microprocessor which controls access to the machines and conveys information about how many machines are in operation, how efficiently they are operating, and whether any are malfunctioning.

New life for an old friend

—Margaret M. Nava

If it is true, as the old adage declares, that “New bromes sweepe cleane, yet old friendships still retaine,” then the recently renovated Quality Coin-Op Laundry and Dry Cleaning, a longtime friend of many Bernalillo residents, is going to “sweepe” very clean, indeed.

Dating back to the 1960s this laundromat was well known as a place where locals could gather to do their laundry and catch up with the latest gossip. Fawn Dolan, owner of the building, said, “There used to be a bakery and carwash nearby. People could buy donuts or get their car washed while their clothes were being washed, and there were a couple of pool tables and an arcade right here in the building where their kids could hang out. It was a kind of safe haven. But after the laundromat closed down about eight years ago, everything fell into disrepair. The machines were vandalized, doors were kicked in, part of the ceiling collapsed, and vagrants took over. When we bought the building a couple of years ago, we considered remodeling it into apartments or office space, but so many people kept expressing a need for a centrally located laundromat in Bernalillo that we decided to just gut the building down to the rafters and four walls and give them what they wanted.”

Visible from the intersection of Camino del Pueblo and Calle del Presidente, this bright, airy laundromat has been completely renovated and updated within the last three months—new paint, washers, dryers, lighting, and ceramic tile floors. But aside from being just another pretty face, it’s also trying to be as “Green” as possible. Instead of monstrous tank-type heaters that waste energy and water, a series of on-demand water heaters have been installed. These wall-mounted units conserve floor space, supply evenly heated water only when needed, and operate on electronic ignition that eliminates the need for pilot lights. Hidden in the floor between banks of oversized washing machines, a concrete trough, or trench drain, channels waste water away from the machines and into a main drain, removing the necessity for individual drains. All of the washers, dryers, and vending machines are connected to a state-of-the-art central computer that contains a programmed microprocessor which controls access to the machines and conveys information about how many machines are in operation, how efficiently they are operating, and whether any are malfunctioning.

Dolan, who also owns Camino Real Antiques and the Nearly New resale clothing store in Bernalillo, says she would like to work with other business owners to revitalize the town’s downtown area. “We could jazz it up… add some landscaping, some walk-ability, and maybe even some benches where people could sit. You know…make it a little more inviting than just ugly black asphalt.

“In terms of saving an old building, this one is back , up and running, and ready to go. It has some green aspects to it, it’s easily accessible, and it’s got a lot of history behind it. Renovating this old laundromat has been like helping another Phoenix rise from the ashes…sort of like giving an old friend a facelift so it can start a new life. We even gave it a new name…La Plaza Laundromat.” 

Bernalillo has a rich and diverse history that represents where its residents have come from, where they have been, and what they have accomplished. Much of this history is embodied in the town’s buildings. Allowing any of these buildings to deteriorate, or be demolished, is tantamount to destroying history. By renovating, restoring, or rehabbing an old building, both the building and its history are preserved.

Historic preservation is both a public activity and a private passion. It adds value to our lives by teaching us about the events that formed our communities, by creating an appreciation of local history, by forming an indestructible connection to the past, and by fostering an appreciation for our diverse cultural heritage. It makes us an integral part of history by virtue of our protecting it but it also stabilizes our neighborhoods, revitalizes downtowns, creates jobs, attracts tourist dollars, and increases the tax base. Without such preservation, old friends like the Quality Coin-Op Laundry and Dry Cleaning building, although now brought to new life, would be lost forever.

La Plaza Laundromat is located at 107 Calle del Presidente. At the time this story was written, the building was still under construction. If not presently open, it will soon be ready for you to drop in, do some laundry, and maybe make some new friends.
   

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