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White Rock Visitor Center Opens Sept. 28

on September 17, 2012 - 6:13am
Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
COUNTY News:
 
The new White Rock Visitor Center Complex at 115 N.M. 4 is scheduled to open its doors during a grand opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28.
 
The 3,281 square foot Visitor Center, located along New Mexico Highway 4 (N.M. 4), the gateway to Bandelier National Monument, will serve as a tourist center and local transit hub to and from Bandelier and the Los Alamos townsite.

Concurrent with the building of the White Rock Visitor Center, Los Alamos County Public Works Department also reconstructed the section of N.M. 4 that runs adjacent to the new Visitor Center, as well as existing businesses and planned economic development projects in this area. 
 
The N.M. 4 Improvements Construction project delivered enhanced access, traffic calming, landscaping, pedestrian pathways and bike lanes and other amenities. 
 
These two projects are the first of several identified in a master planning effort designed to create a revitalized town center for White Rock.

“We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that will be opening up to businesses in White Rock now that the new Visitor Center is open,” said Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, adding that the facility was one of the first achievements in the White Rock Master Plan for economic development, and was completed in conjunction with improvements to adjacent N.M. 4 to enhance aesthetics and access for both local residents and visitors. “With the new Visitor Center and County-funded shuttle service, White Rock is going to be identified as the ‘entrance to Bandelier’ for most visitors. We want to create a welcoming environment that encourages travelers to stop, shop and stay with us. We hope they’ll explore opportunities in White Rock and Los Alamos that exist beyond the national park.”

"The new Visitor Center will provide a better way for the business community to reach out to the more than 200,000 tourists that use N.M. 4 to visit Bandelier National Monument each year,” said Katy Korkos, member services coordinator of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. “With as many as 300 visitors per day at the height of tourist season, that’s 300 people who will discover just how much there is to see and do within a short drive. We hope the resulting traffic will have a positive effect on area businesses in the County and the community as a whole.”

Several representatives from agencies who were instrumental in the planning, design and construction of the new Visitor Center and the N.M. 4 improvements will participate in the grand opening.
 
Agencies include: Los Alamos County Council; past and present members of the White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee, Los Alamos County’s Public Works and Capital Projects departments; and the participating design and construction contractors. 
 
Also attending will be those responsible for operation of the facility once the doors are open, including the members of the Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board and the staff and volunteers from both the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and Meeting and Visitors Bureau, among others.

The White Rock Visitor Center building and landscape was developed using many environmentally friendly features such as recycled concrete-based siding; solar orientation and installation of energy efficient LED lighting in the visitor center and parking lot; installation of an inverted roof to collect rainwater for irrigation use on outside plants; xeric, low water usage landscaping; and vaulted ceilings and numerous windows to allow for plenty of natural lighting and to save energy.

Key features of the Visitor Center also include:
  • RV Parking – short-term, 16-space parking for RVs, with water and electric hook-ups, as well as an on-site sanitary dump station;
  • Transit hub – offering transit to/from the Los Alamos townsite and Bandelier National Monument;
  • Dog holding pen – 40-foot gated dog pen for canine travelers; and
  • Picnic tables.
The Visitor Center will be staffed with at least one employee and one volunteer who will welcome visitors and answer questions regarding area attractions such as Bandelier National Monument, White Rock Overlook, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway, and attractions in the Los Alamos townsite including Bradbury Science Museum, Los Alamos Historical Museum, historic Fuller Lodge and, eventually the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

Visitor Center hours will continue to be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at peak tourist season (March 15 through Oct. 31); and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the low season (Nov. 1 through March 14.)
 
The facility will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Los Alamos County’s Atomic City Transit will offer free shuttle service to/from the White Rock Visitor Center to both the Los Alamos townsite (Route 2) and Bandelier National Monument.
 
Route 2 shuttle service from the transit hub to the Los Alamos townsite will be available Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), while service to Bandelier will be offered seven days a week during peak season (March through November.)
 
An additional stop is available on Rover Blvd. A downloadable map of the Route 2 map and schedule is available on the Atomic City Transit website at http://www.losalamosnm.us/transit/Documents/Route2.pdf. For more information, call 505-661-RIDE (7433.)

The White Rock Visitor Center and the N.M. 4 Improvements projects are part of a coordinated effort between the Los Alamos County and the White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee to revitalize White Rock.

The next phase includes refurbishment of the White Rock Senior Center and Youth Activity Center; along with construction of a new branch library; and extension of the Canada del Buey Trail, which will connect the White Rock Visitor Center with Overlook Park at the center of White Rock.

The improvements to N.M. 4 were completed by the Los Alamos County Public Works Department and Mountain States Constructors, ahead of schedule (February to August 2012) and under the project construction budget of $6.7 million. The White Rock Visitor Center was constructed by Gerald Martin Construction in less than a year – from November 2011 to August 2012 – at a cost of $2.5 million.  

White Rock offers a vast trail system with at least 73 miles of designated trails. The community is part of Los Alamos County, whose history dates back as far as 1150 BC, when ancestral puebloans inhabited the area. Remnants of their existence can be found among the petroglyphs and pueblo dwellings at Bandelier National Monument.  

 
For more information about the White Rock Visitor Center, contact Katy Korkos at 505-661-4816.
 
For general information on Los Alamos’ history, special events, or other details, visit www.fyila.com.
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