Letter to the Editor: I Commend Those Who Have Worked on Charter Review

Los Alamos

I want to commend those who have worked on the Charter Review after reading it. Since I’ll not be able to attend the meeting, I want to say a few words of reflection.

I spent 12 years of my life with others on the efforts to establish, what became the FL/HDABoard, which advises the County Council about historical preservation in specific ways usually. I have made blunders in my life, but in those years gave an ethical service, and we who served set groundwork for a love of Los Alamos in all of its historic and present day periods.

In the Charter Review there is a recommendation for giving written ethics for the Boards and commissions. I agree with this heartily. I can only speak to the particular board and the kind of knowledge that one has to have to serve. 

One of the first things I learned is that the FL/HDAB can only be wise in its advice if it knows and takes seriously the fact that they must represent the US Secretary of Interior Guidelines for preservation, and making nominations to the Historic Registries, from city, county, state and national levels. Books are provided for communities to use, and we made sure that there were copies in the Historical Society library. We ordered them from Washington, and anything that had to be paid for I paid for personally. 

I am a member of the Historical Society, so I made the donation on this premise. I believe these guidelines should be a part of the ethical standards of this particular board. I also believe a standard should be added to the county practices and the practice of the board in making its recommendations.

 No one can make appropriate decisions as to the preservation of Fuller Lodge and Bathtub Row in the style changes and repairs except a Certified Preservationist. Until recently that was done. In fact, the books help with less complex issues, but in the care of roofing, logs, walls, architecture, masonry and flooring, a preservationist should be consulted.

I have watched many of the decisions that were made before 2004 be put into the now. I am disappointed, however in the care of the interior of the Lodge. The logs are not dusted until years have passed. The once beautiful wreath and chili ristras are dry and dull, the voices of some have come to me to say there is work being done or planned that will be done by someone who has no training as a preservationist. I can only think that this is to save money. In the long run it can cost a great deal of money.

So I have no real dissent to offer the Charter Review but would like to see some provisions given under the broad title of Historic Preservation, or directly as a part of ethics for the advisors to the County Council, or both.

I rarely pat myself on the back because I am a normal human, but I have had Denise Lane pat me on the back when there was a preservation conference here while she was on the County Council that attracted out of state and national members. We were doing something that many of these people were astounded about. We were working with architects as a board, and as a county on behalf of preservation. I was learning that historic districts were healthier if they had a mix of private, local government property and federal property.

I sincerely hope that this kind of book learning and research that we did can be continued so as to be passed from one board to another. It helps as well to have support by attorneys instead of the interpretations of law that keep a community from saving its history in the context of what it feels like amid modernization, existing with change.

Steamboat Springs is one of the best examples of this that I have seen. It has a pond in a park that surpasses in grace what our new pond has in complexity. I will enjoy immensely the concerts in the new venue, but I will worry constantly about young children who run loose during these events, and bound about the walkways in the water. These were no additive to the spirit of Ashley Pond, which approaches the century mark.


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