County Council Action Taken Aug. 31

Los Alamos Daily Post

Recreational spaces are in high demand and the proposed recreation facility that would be shared by Los Alamos County and Los Alamos Public Schools may satisfy that demand.

Los Alamos County Council heard a presentation and offered input on the project during its Tuesday night meeting.

Councilors David Reagor and David Izraelevitz were absent. Councilor Sara Scott was unavailable to participate in this discussion.

Public Works Director Anne Laurent discussed the project and explained that in Fiscal Year 2019 the state awarded a $350,000 grant for the design of the facility. It was conceived to be on North Mesa near the Los Alamos Middle School, Laurent noted that this does not impact the North Mesa Housing project.
Following receiving the grant money, discussions were kicked off between the public schools and County staff about the project, Laurent said.

Important discussion topics, she said, include market conditions, labor shortages in the construction field, difficulties with getting materials and rising costs.

“It is important right from the beginning that we need to agree to talk about how this building is going to be occupied, who is responsible for what and how it’s going to work,” Laurent said.

Project costs are a consideration. Laurent pointed out that for a 10,000 square foot building, it is estimated to cost approximately $3.5 million, and the state grant would cover about 10 percent of the cost. Given market increases and discussions to increase the size of the building, the cost could go up.

The building’s location is another consideration. Laurent presented three different site options. The first option, which was identified as the schools’ ideal option, is located across the middle school football field and next to a cul-de-sac. The second option is on land across from the middle school campus, adjacent to Hawk Drive and San Ildefonso Road. Option three faces the middle school parking lot and runs along Hawk Drive. Similar to Option One, option four is near the middle school football field but on the opposite side of the school.

So, what would fill up the building? In a drawing, Laurent showed it would feature a full-scale court that could be divided into half courts as well as seating. An idea for locker rooms also is proposed.

“I want to be very clear this is just a little spatial study this is not an architectural design but it is just to represent what could fit here,” she said. “It is more than just a metal building around a court…”

Laurent said that any added amenities such as seating, concession space, storage and a multi-purpose room would require a larger building, between 20,000-30,000 square feet. This also would have a larger price tag ranging from $7 to $12 million. She noted there is discussion to construct a second jointly owned facility in White Rock. The state awarded $600,000 for that facility.
As far as next steps, Laurent said they would like to issue a Request for Proposal for design services as well as draft and execute a joint use agreement this year.

Council offered their thoughts on the project.

County Councilor Sean Williams said he needs to have a conversation about capital priorities before he weighs in the project.

“I think we probably should have the conversation about capital priorities before at least I could reasonably answer this,” he said. “Because to me, even in terms asking about the design, that is always a financial question, first and foremost. I don’t have an answer myself to that question tonight because I don’t have a set of priorities around capital projects …”

He also suggested presenting the project to the Parks and Recreation Board for its input.
Council Chair Randall Ryti agreed with Williams.

“…Councilor Williams is probably right about the overall bigger picture in terms of what this might push out if we did decide to go ahead, so maybe we need some follow up discussion on the capital project list,” he said.

Ryti added he felt option two is the best option to pursue.

Council Vice Chair James Robinson concurred with Ryti.

“I think (option) one and two are the best, and in my opinion, I think we can get the biggest bang for our buck if site two works to get more amenities to help compliment our schools and community needs … and seeing what the impact would be on some of our other capital projects … I’m not very comfortable with $12 million for just one gym … it is really hard to take when we might have other competing needs that could utilize that extra money,” he said.

Councilor Denise Derkacs also said she felt the first and second option are the best ones to pursue.

“I am inclined to say we should look at both one and two since one is the preferred site of the schools but also consider two because it would allow for more options, but also keep in mind if there is another site or another facility planned for White Rock in the future that there might be more flexibility for a larger facility there depending on the site location,” she said.

In other business:
Council introduced three ordinances: Ordinance No. 02-313, which revises sections of Chapter 22 of the County Code, Ordinance No. 02-318, which amends text in Chapter 16 of the County Code to adopt regulations for cannabis cultivation and manufacturing, and Ordinance No. 02-319, which revises the County’s official zoning map to rezone 0.39 acres of land known as the Lemon Lot to public land.

Council approved 4-1, with Williams opposed, to extend the deadline for completion of the The Bluffs apartment complex, which is an affordable apartment complex for seniors that will be located on DP Road. The new deadline is Dec. 31, 2022.
Council unanimously approved policy updates for the Community Services Department’s charges and fees policy, cemetery fees for Guaje Pines Cemetery and fees for use and rental of County facilities and land.

Council unanimously approved the allocation uses plan for the American Rescue Plan Act, with a target allocation of 70-75 percent in Category A, which addresses response to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality. Additionally, it was approved to have a target allocation for utilities of 25-30 percent in Category D, which is making necessary investments in water and sewer infrastructure.

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