By ROBERT PELAK
After the bond for the five recreation projects was defeated in the recent election, it seems unfathomable to me that the County Council should consider proceeding with these projects anyway. It is especially galling to attempt to move forward so soon after the election and to use every last bit of available funding.
Going forward risks cementing into people’s hearts and minds the belief the Council is deaf to the citizens. It also appears to be fiscally irresponsible as it would leave us with very little funding left for other capital projects even after cutting back on roads, parks and other capital expenses. With the laboratory GRT tax contribution uncertain in the face of the impending contract competition, it is extremely unwise to spend down all of our funds, especially just for recreation projects.
Prior to the bond vote, I had a chance to speak with a colleague who was returning to LANL after a stint with Descartes Labs. Descartes has been hiring many people recently and is moving its center of operations from Los Alamos to Santa Fe. I asked him – if we passed the bond and built the projects that the money was earmarked for, would it be something that would have influenced new Descartes hires to live or want to live in Los Alamos? He said it would not – new hires would still prefer to live in Santa Fe.
So I do not expect the building of these facilities to change the dynamics of who moves to Los Alamos and why. We will not be able to compete with Santa Fe on amenities just as we will not be able to compete with the Espanola and Pojoaque valleys on sizes of property. To attract people to Los Alamos we need to play to our strengths, not try to vainly keep up with our neighbors.
Where we can potentially outcompete our neighbors is in creating an inclusive, responsive and well-maintained community. That means increasing our focus on taking care of what we have rather than rushing to build new things. It means putting more effort into making sure that services are delivered competently and efficiently. It means emphasizing “good” over “more.” And it certainly means heeding the results of elections rather than charging forward despite them.