Progress Continues On Four Capital Improvement Projects

Work is moving ahead on all four recreational capital improvement projects, from top left, a kiddie pool at the aquatic center, a new irrigation system at the golf course; new locker rooms and restrooms at the ice rink and a splash pad at Piñon Park in White Rock. Photos by Kirsten Laskey/

Los Alamos Daily Post

It was a long time coming for many of Los Alamos County’s recreational capital improvement projects (CIPs).

Community members advocated for years to bring into fruition projects such as improving the irrigation system at the County’s golf course and constructing a kiddie pool at the aquatic center, but they remained items on a wish list until now.

Public Works Director Anne Laurent, during a recent interview with the Los Alamos Daily Post, provided updates on the CIPs, several of which entered the construction phase.

She said that at the golf course, “the work is starting to replace the irrigation system … the work will continue all the way through the end of the calendar year.”

The new sprinkler system that is being installed in the golf course will have 1,560 sprinklers in the entire system. The turf edge will be surrounded by park service sprinklers, which allows the water to be targeted solely on the grass and not areas that do not need water. If the County needs to take water saving measures due to drought, the edges of the course could be eliminated from irrigation.

Additionally, if there is a problem with the main water line or if there is a break in the main line, there will be 11 isolatable zones, which allows golf course staff to shut down the effected zones and still provide water to the rest of the course.

The control system will be computerized. This computer will be able to interact with sensors, which monitor temperature, humidity, wind and solar radiation. As a result, the control system will be able to accurately calculate how much water is needed and self-adjust to provide the correct amount. The golf course’s irrigation system is not the only thing getting improved, Laurent said.

Workers are making site and amenity improvements such as replacing the safety netting on the driving range and the #2 hole. Some of the greens are being rehabbed along with sand bunkers, drainage and tee boxes, Laurent said. The restroom on the #13 hole is being improved along with four weather shelters. All these improvements, Laurent said, are going to happen simultaneously with the irrigation work. She added anything that is not finished this year will be completed in the spring of 2021. The base cost for the project is $1,300 per sprinkler. Overall, the basic golf course irrigation system costs approximately $2.1 million.

Work also has started at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

Laurent said all the underground work is mostly completed and walls are starting to go up. Additionally, she said the former restroom is being gutted.

“That’s pretty exciting and that should be completed for October this year,” she said.

Improvements at the ice rink include reconfiguring the locker rooms and restrooms. The locker rooms will be expanded from 700 square feet to 2,300 square feet.

As for the kiddie pool, which is located at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center, Laurent said design documents are being reviewed and finalized and the construction project is scheduled to go for bid this month. She added that the plan is to have council consider the recommended bid either in August or early September. The project will feature the following:
2,000 square foot zero-entry pool with spray features, lazy river and an area for swim lessons
19-foot tower slide
Three family changing rooms

The new pool will hold 235 occupants. The budget for the kiddie pool is $6.5 million.

Council recently approved the contract for the splash pad. The contract was awarded to Los Alamos Landscaping and More.
Laurent said a notice to proceed was issued and work is expected to begin soon and will be completed in the fall.

The splash pad, which will be located near Piñon Park in White Rock, will operate on a flow-through water system. The splash pad will cover 1,270 square feet and offer numerous water features that will showcase a science and nature theme. Some seating will be provided with a wall made from refurbished concrete of the old shuffleboard pads. Plus, large umbrellas will be used to give shade. The total project budget is $720,000.

Overall, Laurent said all the recreational CIPs are going smoothly.

“They are all getting there,” she said. “They are all making good progress.”

Even the pandemic has not slowed the projects’ progress down, so far, she said.

“We have been very fortunate at this point,” Laurent said, “All our construction and bidding has gone on as expected.”

In addition, she pointed out that while work is happening at various County facilities, it should not force these facilities to be closed to the public.

At the golf course, “so far the work hasn’t impacted the play,” Laurent said.

She added it is a similar situation at the ice rink and plans are being developed once hockey teams are ready to take to the ice.

Additionally, once work begins on the kiddie pool, Laurent said the plan is to keep the aquatic center’s doors open. She pointed out the kiddie pool will have its own infrastructure.

“Our intentions are to keep the aquatic center up and running,” Laurent said.

After years and years of discussing these projects and planning for them, it is exciting to see these recreation CIPs come into fruition, she added.

“It’s exciting to see the design and conversations about them,” Laurent said. “It is exciting to see them come through.”

What makes these projects so great, she said, is that they were largely community driven.  All the projects were vetted through a public process and the members of the public were able to weigh in on the different CIPs.

“There’s a lot to celebrate that these are the results of an inclusive process … they are the results of what the community wants to see in their quality of life,” Laurent said.

Parks and Recreation Board Chair Dina Pesenson said she is relieved these projects are finally becoming a reality.

“I feel the current CIP projects are woefully overdue,” Pesenson said. “For example, the hockey and derby communities have been in dire need of the ice rink improvements and have lobbied for them tirelessly for almost a full generation now. The multi-generational pool of course has famously been in the queue even longer with folks lobbying for it for over 30 years while project cost estimates kept going up with time.”

“I’m relieved the projects finally got the support they needed to move forward and feel the public meetings PRB (Parks and Recreation Board) and County held for each have been effective and positive. Community members in attendance were able to ask questions and give direct input to architects and County staff,” she said.

Still, there is work to do on future projects, Pesenson said.

“I hope to see a more proactive approach by County staff and leadership towards community-led initiatives become the norm,” she said. “I don’t mean that the County has to act on every idea from the community. I mean that community input is time-sensitive and ethereal. Timely consideration and constructive response to community input is essential to growing community engagement and trust in County processes while saving time and money.”

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