County Public Works Director Anne Laurent
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Whether investigating housing opportunities on North Mesa, sharing facility spaces or co-hosting programs, the Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos County have been long-time partners. Another joint project might be added to this partnership – a multi-use recreation space.
Los Alamos County Public Works Director Anne Laurent said the proposed project would be located on North Mesa as part of the Los Alamos Middle School campus. She said the facility would not interfere with the other proposed project near the middle school – the affordable housing project – because the housing would be located on the east side of the middle school parking lot whereas the multi-use recreation building would be located on the west side.
The proposed facility would be a gymnasium that would offer space for a variety of sports such as basketball and wrestling, Laurent said.
To determine if this project is feasible, Laurent said the state awarded $350,000 to create a design for the facility. In addition, she said cost estimates need to be calculated and approvals received from the County council and LAPS school board.
Laurent said the plan is to meet with the school board this month to determine which sites it prefers for the building and what price range the board is comfortable with. The same conversation will be held with the County council, she said.
Once the design is created, this too will be presented to the board and council and if both approve, then the traditional process for a capital improvement project will be followed, Laurent said.
“We’re confident we can get the majority of the design with that $350,000 … so the council and school board can make an informed decision,” she said.
Laurent emphasized the proposed project is still in the early stages. Details such as the size of the gymnasium, which amenities it would offer and costs are undetermined.
“We’re in the very early stages of the project so we have to wait and see how this progresses,” she said.
Former LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and former County Manager Harry Burgess began conversations about constructing a multi-use recreational space, she said.
“I think a couple of things were identified as joint needs,” Laurent said.
For instance, the school officials determined they need more practice space and community members have said there is a lack of gym space in Los Alamos, she said.
LAPS Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy
Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy agreed.
“I believe this is an exciting project that provides a much-needed benefit to both LAPS students and the community at large by providing much needed gym and activity space,” Guy said. “The students would use the space during the school day for classes and projects. We struggle with enough space to meet the needs of our current classes. This gym would give us the flexibility of scheduling more classes at the same time and providing more options for teachers to teach their class. In the afternoons and evenings, the gym would be turned over to the County for community use.”
The state concurred, Laurent said; “… the state agreed; they thought it was a good, worthwhile project, that is why they gave us the money.”
Continuing the partnership between the schools and County through this potential project, just makes sense, she added.
“I guess in my view, collaboration between the schools and municipality makes sense,” Laurent said. “It’s a no-brainer, in my view.”
Guy echoed Laurent’s opinion.
“The County is our best partner,” Guy said. “We all live, work, and learn in this community. We are both here to meet the needs of the Los Alamos community. We have strong collaborations with the county and by working together we can continue to best serve the community. This is a partnership I greatly value.”