Nature Center Public Meetings Jan. 21-22

COUNTY News:

Los Alamos County will hold public information meetings in Los Alamos and White Rock in January to update residents on the design of the new Los Alamos Nature Center. 

The meetings will be Jan. 21 at Fuller Lodge in the Pajarito Room and Jan. 22 in White Rock Town Hall. Both meetings will run 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the same material will be presented at each meeting.

The design for the new Nature Center is underway with ground-breaking set to occur in April and estimated completion set for April 2015. The building will be located north of the Aquatic Center at the former skate park at 2600 Canyon Road. 

The idea to build a new Nature Center began several years ago after discussions with the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), who desired to occupy a larger building to alleviate overcrowded conditions at its current facility on Orange Street. During the County’s annual solicitation for capital projects, PEEC worked with County staff to submit a request for funds for a building study and conceptual design. Catalyst Architecture was hired to undertake the study, develop a conceptual design and estimate a budget to build the project.

After another series of public meetings two years ago, the next phase of the project (design/build) was approved by the capital projects’ citizen/staff committee to proceed to the final stage for Council consideration. The County Council approved $4.3 million in funding in FY13 to complete the design/build project. Award of contract to Klinger Construction, Mullen-Heller Architecture, and Catalyst Architecture was approved by Council last month.

During the upcoming meetings, the public will be able to view nearly final floor plans, exterior renderings, and site plans for the new Nature Center. This design is a refinement of the earlier conceptual designs that were the result of several public meetings, some simplifications to the building to meet budgetary constraints, and input from PEEC. PEEC has already been selected as the contractor who will operate the Nature Center and provide programs to the public. PEEC is currently in the process of raising funds to design and build new exhibits for the building when it opens in 2015. 

The building is planned to be approximately 6,000 square feet and will feature an exhibit area, a children’s “discovery” area, a multi-purpose meeting room for presentations and planetarium shows, an activity classroom, library and wildlife observation room and offices. The site will incorporate an outdoor meeting space, gardens for education, and connection to trails.

After Jan. 22, information presented at the public meetings will be posted to the County’s projects webpage at www.losalamosnm.us – link to Projects/Nature Center. Residents can also sign up for a newsletter for periodic project updates.

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