Letter To The Editor: Comments On County Master Plan

By ROBERT F. BOURQUE, Ph.D., P.E.
Los Alamos

I have lived in Los Alamos for 22 years and retired from LANL seven years ago.

I looked over the County Master Plan slides and have some comments (in no particular order) that I would like to share:

  1. It seems to ignore the fact that it’s too cold here for almost half the year for the outdoor activities that the plan emphasizes.  And, because of that cold, people will want to park near their destination, not in some remote parking garage.
  1. The MeriMac shopping center just needs a face lift, not a tear down. A bowling alley in the old Smiths is a great idea. There should also be room inside for arcades, reading room, snack bars and maybe a wine bar. Some new structures could perhaps be built down the middle of that giant parking lot – a Denny’s type casual restaurant would be nice.
  1. Speaking of wine bars, one of my favorite hangouts was Unquarked. Their move to the old Blue Window was catastrophic. Rather than deal them a fatal blow, I would have hoped the County could have help them get back in business. It seemed to have been a petty squabble that grownups could have resolved. Instead, all I saw was a lot of legal nitpicking by the County, with no attempt whatsoever to help get that business up and running. This is hardly the way to attract new businesses here.
  1. The Movie Theater seems to have died due to COVID. But there was rarely a film shown there that I wanted to see. More diversity would have helped. For example, I once saw a digital performance of Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte in a movie theater in Roswell, of all places. I’m sure there would have been a greater audience here, as there would be for serious films – not just the most popular.
  1. CB Fox never kept up with changing demands and tastes – a chocolate counter at the entrance in this health-conscious era, for example. I don’t know what should replace it. But one thought is a real nightclub that is open late and has a full bar, bar munchies, live music and dancing. It is away from residential areas; so it can be noisy; and has lots of parking in back. There are more young people here now. It has been said that Los Alamos has 35 churches and 2 bars. Well, maybe more bars now. But it’s still pretty boring. A nightclub would give more business to Uber drivers taking tipsy patrons home, and Starbucks feeding them coffee. This seems to be a rather sanctimonious town. I’m sure many of these young people coming from elsewhere would like to change that.
  1. Something must be done about the dominance of Krogers. I worry, for example, that they will drive the new Natural Grocers out of business. There are more important things than the bottom line.
  1. The Atomic Transit bus system is great, but needs some tweaking. I would be happy to pay an annual fee of, say, $35, and then show just a card when boarding. Kind of like Amazon Prime. I doubt it will continue to be free. The giant buses are hardly needed. I would rather have a County-run Uber-type system that comes to my door with smaller vehicles. This can provide driver jobs as well.
  1. It would be good to talk to redevelopers in other small towns that also have to deal with cold weather.
  1. It looks like the County has a rigid attitude as to what Downtown should be like. And I don’t see it trying to help small businesses succeed here (Unquarked again). I hope that will change. A little more tolerance and flexibility will go a long way.
  1. There are about 17 acres on the south side of San Ildefonso, east of the Middle School, that could be developed into detached, or duplex, housing with yards. Not everyone wants to live in condos or apartments.
  1. The pond area could be better utilized if there were more benches and picnic tables.
  1. While the pictures in the County slides of the proposed changes look appealing, do they make sense in this very unique, small town with long winters? The reality could be very different.
  1. Please spend more time thinking about this redevelopment. Remember that saying: “One never has the time to do it right, but always has the time to do it over.” And, of course: “Haste makes waste”.
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