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Another hurdle cleared

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State Board of Finance approves documents for Trinity Project

By Kirsten Laskey

 A major milestone was achieved Tuesday. After three years of conversation, Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos Public Schools took a major step forward in both the Airport Basin project and the Trinity revitalization project.

Tuesday, the State Board of Finance approved the three documents for the Trinity development project, Superintendent Gene Schmidt reported during the regular school board meeting Tuesday night.

He added the State Board of Finance included a contingency. Wednesday morning, Schmidt explained that there is a part in the contract that includes a small piece of property, A-8-B, that is under the title of the federal government. It is the intent of the federal government to deed that property to LAPS, he said.

In the contingency, the documents or master ground lease must include language that when the land is deeded to the school district, the district will then transfer the title to the county.

LAPS Business Manager John Wolfe said Wednesday that the parcel of land will be deeded to the school district when cleanup work on the parcel is completed.

They might have been working up to this point for three years, but County Councilor Mike Wheeler, County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro and School Board President Joan Ahlers only had three-and-a-half minutes to make their pitch to the State Board of Finance, Schmidt said.

“I am absolutely thrilled that it went smoothly at the state board (meeting) … this has been a long time coming … so to see it come to fruition is extremely exciting and rewarding (as well as) knowing that I helped play a small role in it and I look forward to the challenges ahead,” Ahlers told Monitor Wednesday.  

Schmidt said, “Everything is falling into place. It is just very neat and tidy.”

Schmidt said there were a number of factors that allowed the school district and the county to get the desired decision from the State Board of Finance.

First, the school district and the county were well versed on land transfer and land agreements, he said. Plus, Schmidt said both agencies invested a lot of time in this effort and were able to explain what these documents meant.

Wolfe added there was, “a lot of hard work on both sides — Joan Ahlers, Tony Mortillaro, Max Baker, Mary McLeod, Gene Schmidt — folks put a lot of time.”

With getting the State Board of Finance’s approval, work can further progressed on Trinity and at the Airport Basin.

Schmidt said the next thing that will happen is the school district will get a 120 day notice from the county to vacate its currently occupied buildings on Trinity Drive.

By the end of May, the school district officials will be off the grounds.

After Mortillaro signs the documents, Wolfe said the plan is to move the maintenance building onto the Airport Basin site. He had hoped to get the keys to the new building Wednesday. The school board approved the license agreement for the maintenance building during its meeting Tuesday.

Schmidt added there is discussion of where to locate the administrative offices. The Pueblo Complex is the top selection.

The school district needs to vacate its current buildings so the county can begin demolishing them.

This process of relocating school buildings and tearing down the old buildings will benefit everyone – the school district and the community.

By tearing down the currently school buildings, Schmidt said a clean site can be given to a developer and work to create a commercial property on Trinity would begin.

By having this new commercial space, Schmidt said the community would benefit because “we are looking for increase shopping opportunities. We like to see the dollar stay in town.”

Plus, the school district gains money from rentals it would share with the county.

Wolfe explained lease money would supplement the district’s budget. Ahlers added the district can be flexible with this money; they can spend it on whatever they want whether it is capital projects or operational.

Another benefit to the school district, she said, is that it helps the school district fulfill its promise to the community to become more self-sufficient.