From left, Los Alamos County Councilor Pete Sheehey, Vice Chair Susan O’Leary and Councilor James Chrobocinski at the public outreach listening session on CIP projects Jan. 19 at Fire Station 3 in White Rock. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
County Manager Harry Burgess discusses the CIP process with White Rock residents. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Community members listen as Los Alamos Hockey Association President Susan Oldham speaks about the ‘desperate need’ for building improvements at the County Ice Rink. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
The Los Alamos County Council held the second of seven public meetings to seek community input before selecting its slate of Capital Improvement Projects.
Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary chaired the meeting Jan. 19, at the fire station in White Rock, attended by Councilor James Chrobocinski, Councilor Pete Sheehey and senior staff. Chair Rick Reiss and councilors Steven Girrens, Kristin Henderson and David Izraelevitz were unable to attend.
O’Leary made the motion at a Dec. 8 meeting for council to host four public outreach listening sessions – two in White Rock and two in Los Alamos – and three topic oriented public meetings to include projects related to:
- Economic Development and Infrastructure;
- Parks and Recreation; and
- Quality of Life.
The motion was unanimously approved and the first two meetings – Jan. 12 in Los Alamos and Jan. 19 in White Rock – focused primarily on Parks and Recreation projects. Twenty-two citizens including parents, coaches and athletes took turns speaking to council during the Jan. 19 meeting.
White Rock resident Denny Erickson spoke in support of several projects including a new visitor center in Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and a new recreation center anchored by an indoor ice arena.
“It’s not only a recreational idea but an economic development idea,” he said.
Erickson also asked Council for special consideration of the golf course improvement project and asked for a more expansive White Rock Complex and Senior Center.
White Rock resident Jim Hall presented his perspective on the selection process for determining which projects to fund first.
“The major value of any project is how much it’s used,” Hall said. “Priority should be based on avoiding future maintenance costs, projects that attract the best and the brightest to our town … not just the Lab but the County and schools, and specifically projects that generate economic development, private investment and that attract customers. And finally, I’d like to echo Denny Erickson – please remember White Rock.”
There is a list of some 20 projects gathered from past years but the point of the public meetings to help create a final list under consideration in this CIP funding cycle. To fund the projects, Deputy County Manager/Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne said the County has $14 million in unallocated CIP funds available, as well as some state money allocated for road infrastructure projects and another $1.2 million in the CIP Permanent Fund.
For the first time ever, the council also plans to place the projects in a bond election, which is planned for the spring of 2017. Lynne explained previously that the maximum General Obligation (GO) bond debt limit allowed by the state is $27 million. The County currently has no GO bond debt so the maximum bond amount for a bundle of projects on the ballot is $27 million.
O’Leary posed the question to community members at the Jan. 19 meeting, “How many of you would be willing to have your taxes raised to fund these projects?” Most everyone in the room raised their hand for a $20 per month tax increase and nearly as many for a $50 increase.
The next public meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9 in Council Chambers in Los Alamos and will focus on the topic of Quality of Life projects.
Tommy Oldham discusses needed improvements at the County Ice Rink from his perspective as a hockey player. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos County Little League Girls Softball Coach and Team Manager Hope Jaramillo explains that local softball teams have struggled with a lack of ball field space. There’s just one field in Los Alamos and two in White Rock, she said, adding that the league would like to sponsor a regional tournament and asked for Council’s support of a softball complex on North Mesa. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Denny Erickson spoke in favor of several projects including a new Los Alamos Visitor Center for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and a recreation center within Los Alamos County anchored by an indoor ice arena – ‘It’s not only a recreational idea but an economic development idea as well,’ he said. Erickson also asked Council to give special consideration to golf course improvements as, ‘They’ve been through this for years.’ He also asked for a more expansive White Rock Complex/Senior Center project. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Colleen Swabbley told Council she has three sons who play sports and said all would benefit from field and facility upgrades … ‘I’m willing to pay more in taxes.’ She also requested that Council develop and share a matrix so the public can understand why projects are selected rather than because of a popularity contest. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Ben Reese explains that he has played hockey all of his life and cannot understand why the local rink is ‘so underdeveloped’. He encouraged Council to fix it up, which will aid in drawing camps and tournaments to town, he said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Hockey player Ben Roback describes the inadequate conditions of the locker room, bathrooms warming hut and even the rink itself and asked Council for improvements. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Isaac Dunwoody told Council he has been playing hockey for nearly 15 years and advocated for a new ice rink as well as upgrades to the existing facility. ‘I believe we need a second ice rink in a recreation center to open up developmental camps, tournaments and bring in money,’ he said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
LAHS Varsity Hockey Assistant Coach Brett Lincoln advocates for an indoor ice rink so players can practice and play year round, adding that building a second ice rink could attract a junior team. He also asked that Council not approve a cover above the outdoor ice rink saying it would ruin the ambiance. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos Soccer League President John Wilcox advocates for a recreation complex with an indoor soccer field. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
LAHS graduate, coach and San Ildefonso Gov. James Mountain speaks on behalf of baseball saying the local fields are outdated. He suggested Council consider a turf field because it would save on water, increase safety, be more cost effective and sustainable and require less maintenance. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Raul Granillo told Council that baseball is an important part of the community. He spoke for the advancement of softball and baseball fields and in support of hockey facilities. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
David Moulton said nostalgia for outdoor ice rinks is growing and couple that with the anchor of an indoor ice rink would be a ‘big show of benefit to the community.’ Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
ADA Kerry Cofelt of the Northeast Region for Little League said his number 1 priority in selecting a community for games is safety and also places to stay and eat. The Los Alamos ball fields are antiquated and ‘not safe for anyone.’ ‘If we can build build some new ball fields and it’s done safely and correctly than yes, I would say Los Alamos can host tournaments,’ he said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Irene Powell served on the committee to select projects years ago when the County had ‘lots of money.’ At the Jan. 19 meeting, she spoke in support of a new recreation center saying there is room to build it behind the Aquatic Center and to build a leasure pool in front of the Aquatic Center. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Chris Jeffrey spoke in support of ice hockey. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Karen Lucero has four daughters who all play softball. She spoke in support of a softball complex, which could be used for baseball as well, she said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Richard Bandewater said he checked into pricing 4-5 years ago to build a new ice rink facility. ‘About $2 million would get you a decent ice rink and then a recreation center would be beyond that,’ he said. He also said hosting tournaments in a new facility would draw five teams per division and with 15 teams, players, coaches and families some 250 people would come to town. Potential revenue from each family spending approximately $1,000 for hotels, food and shopping is $250,000 per tournament, he said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
LAHS Varsity Hockey Coach Kevin Brake said if the goal is to host tournaments and boost the economy then the facility has to be a destination. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Jim Hall spoke about evaluating and prioritizing the various projects under consideration by determining how much the project would be used, the avoidance of future costs, ability to attract best and brightest to lab, county and schools, and the economic development aspect – will it draw private investment and attract customers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
June Gladney spoke on behalf of the board of LA Cares and requested a facility in which to operate a food bank. Due to logistics issues, food is only distributed once a month, she said, to approximately 267 people in 90 families. ‘LA Cares needs a food bank and storage facility of about 2,500-3000 square feet in size,’ she said. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Residents raise their hand when asked who is willing to pay more taxes to fund the requested projects. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com