Council Tables Decision On Los Alamos County Open Space Management Plan

From left, Open Space Specialist Craig Martin, Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan and Parks, Recreation and Open Space Manager Randy Smith present details of the Los Alamos County Open Space Management Plan to Council during today’s noon meeting in Council Chambers. ScreenShot/LADP 

P&Z Commissioner Phil Gursky speaks during public comment advising Council that the plan is in conflict with existing County plans and cautioned them about designating the entire land as W-1 (scenic open lands district). ScreenShot/LADP

PRB Open Space Subcommittee member Kevin Holsapple encourages Council to approve the proposed plan. ScreenShot/LADP

Staff Report

Time ran out before a motion could be made today by County Council on the proposed Open Space Management Plan as a guideline for County stewardship of County-owned open space.

Open Space Specialist Craig Martin, Community Services Director Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan and  Following extensive questioning by Council and several members of the community speaking during public comment, the issue was tabled at the noon meeting in Council Chambers. When Council agreed to hold the once a month Friday meetings at noon, it was with the assurance that the council chair would maintain a strict 90-minute format.

Council Chair Kristin Henderson said the proposed plan will be placed for consideration on a future agenda.

The Open Space Management Plan was reviewed and approved by the Open Space Advisory Subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Board, and the Parks and Recreation Board also reviewed and recommended approval of this plan to the County Council.

The Open Space Management Plan is a compilation of the efforts of the Open Space Advisory Committee (formed at the request of County Council in 2001), the current Open Space Advisory Subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Board, and the County’s Open Space Specialist. The plan is a framework for management of County-owned open space, which requires attention and maintenance if it is to remain an aspect of quality of life in Los Alamos. The plan clearly defines open space; designates its location; addresses what it offers to residents; and then provides goals and objectives that are detailed, measurable, and achievable.

The plan identifies key features of open space that enhance the desirability of Los Alamos as a place to live or visit, and outlines methods to protect those features. Approval and adoption of the plan would demonstrate the County’s commitment to maintaining this aspect of quality of life in Los Alamos, which provides the backdrop to residents’ daily lives, attracts new residents; and expands the economic base of the County as an outdoor adventure destination for visitors.
The features identified by the plan are:

  • – Vistas and viewpoints;
  • – Natural resources;
  • – Cultural and historical resources;
  • – Trails and open space as trail corridors;
  • – “Neighborhood;

To manage these features and promote Los Alamos as an outdoor recreation destination that stimulates economic development, the plan proposes the following key actions:  

  • Consolidate public lands currently used as open space into a specifically identified Los Alamos Open Space System under the existing P-L (W-1) zoning overlay. This aligns with the Draft Land Use Map developed as a part of the Comprehensive Plan Update;
  • Find acceptable methods for protecting mountain and canyon vistas;  
  • Continue active management of natural and cultural resources by reducing wildland fire fuels, controlling invasive species, addressing runoff from burned and urbanized areas, addressing County service roads and construction projects, promoting restoration projects and other land management strategies;
  • Enhance the County Trail Network to appeal to a broader range of trail users and to encourage new business opportunities that are focused on open space and trails. Acknowledge the uniqueness of Los Alamos’ offering of natural landscapes within neighborhoods with outdoor recreation opportunities are only a few minutes’ walk from nearly every home in the community.
Creating and labeling the Los Alamos Open Space System on maps and actively promoting 64 miles of trails winding through more than 4,000 acres illustrates that the County is a community with much outdoor recreation potential. The clear commitment will help attract additional businesses to the community, such as guide services, shuttle services, mountain bike tours, mountain bike terrain parks, equipment rentals, and additional food and beverage services.
Many of the specific objectives of the plan are ongoing activities of County staff. The plan provides continuity to open space management for the next two decades. The changes in zoning designations recommended in the plan should be implemented parallel to the comprehensive plan update timeline.
The Open Space Management Plan was fully vetted by the Open Space Subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Board (PRB) and was also presented to the PRB in November. The plan was also presented at two public meetings with a combined attendance of approximately 95 residents. Leaders of three local outdoor groups discussed the plan with staff. The Planning and Zoning Commission received a presentation on the plan. Local media covered the plan in three articles, and the plan was the subject of several discussions on social media. The plan generated 22 supportive comments and many “support this statement” hits on Open Forum. The open space specialist has received 27 emails in support of the plan.
There is no fiscal commitment requested in the plan. Most of the actions would be part of the normal duties of the Open Space Specialist. The proposed changes to current zoning designations would require staff time in Community and Economic Development and Community Services, but much of this is already contemplated as we move ahead with preparing the Comprehensive Plan. Specific smaller restoration projects would be funded out of the normal open space budget; any larger projects would come to Council for approval as part of the regular approval process.

Councilor Steven Girrens asks for clarification about the W-1 desigation. Screen Shot

Councilor James Chrobocinski poses questions about the possibility for future development. ScreenShot/LADP

Councilor Rick Reiss questions many aspects of the proposed plan. ScreenShot/LADP

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