Laura Wilson understands neighborhoods, she understands trees and grass, and she understands the difference between an “eyesore” and a place of beauty. And for the past three decades, after moving here in 1972, she has worked to make Santa Fe better through her understanding of these things.
When the neighborhood association movement took hold in Santa Fe several years ago, Wilson agreed to become chairperson of the Don Diego association when no one else volunteered to take the helm. Under her leadership, this group became one of the city’s most active and productive such organizations.
A certified landscape architect, Wilson took special interest in preserving the green and shady City Park on Pueblo Drive, just west of Don Diego Avenue. Careful to work within the established municipal process, she attended many meetings with the City Parks Department, devised sound procedures for the stately elms and the grass below, with a minimum use of water, and worked to gain a consensus from neighbors.
With this experience, plus her professional training, Wilson moved on to play a key role in the complex, ongoing—-and essential—effort to develop the Railyard Park off Guadalupe Street in the manner that best will serve the city’s highest interest. Without remuneration or acknowledgment she has shared her expertise and concern at public meetings, with city officials and committees, wherever she has been asked to help.
Although she would not use this term herself, perhaps the most impressive lasting “monument” to Wilson’s dedication will be the soon-to-be-completed Entrada Park at the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Don Diego. A small, triangular patch, this site has through the years been nothing more than an overlooked, unsightly and useless dot of land in a commercial strip. But Wilson could see something better there: a surprise island of beauty, a lift to the spirit for motorists and pedestrians.
Over five years of quiet persistence, Wilson almost single-handedly convinced the city to build a tiny park there. Adobe-colored installations have been set into place, and— fittingly for Wilson’s profession—the park will also be landscaped. Or to be precise, it will be “xeriscaped”—for Laura Wilson also understands just how precious water is.