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Atomic City Update: Officials say no truth to golf course rumor

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By Phil Scherer

In last week’s column, I talked about an idea that had been brought to my attention that I found interesting.

It involved selling the existing golf course and building a new one in Pueblo Canyon, something I had heard about from a small group of people. However, it was just an idea and I attempted to present it in that way.

Since the column was published, there has been a lot of reaction from the community and county officials about the idea. Although many people think that it is an interesting concept, it doesn’t seem to be very realistic at this time.

County Council Chair David Izraelevitz explained that this idea is not a totally new one, and that it has been brought up in the past, but has been quickly dismissed each time.

“It hasn’t been taken too seriously because of opposition to closing down the course for a long period of time,” Izraelevitz said.

It has been discussed at least as far back as the 1980s, when then-County Councilor Roger Waterman brought up the idea of moving the golf course and building houses on the current site, according to Morris Pongratz, his fellow councilor at the time.

Though Pongratz did not know all of the specifics, he said that Waterman’s plan was to build the alternate course and then close down the existing course. The idea was dismissed because people were opposed to “changing things,” he said.

Izraelevitz explained that there would likely be many issues with opening up a course in a site such as Pueblo Canyon, including getting utilities to the site and what it would do for the visibility in the area.

He also felt that there would be objections from people who would hate to see golfing leave the area for at least two years, making it even more unlikely.

“I have not seen any formal analysis that would make me think this would be a viable option,” Izraelevitz said.

Councilor James Chrobocinski also offered his thoughts on the idea, saying although fellow councilor Antonio Maggiore brought up the idea at one point, it was “ridiculous.”

Maggiore said that he was originally approached with the idea, and that he had two conversations about it, but that that was the end of any discussion.

“It never gained any sort of traction,” Maggiore said.

He added that the council is fully committed to the existing course, especially after approving $4.5 million for course improvements at last week’s council meeting.

Chrobocinski also pointed out another issue in the plan as it was presented to me. For my original column, I was told that the plan involved a realty company purchasing the land that the golf course sits on.

Chrobocinski correctly pointed out that developers buy empty plots of land to build houses, not realty companies.

In a Facebook post, Los Alamos Golf Association President Margot Liberty said that there was no truth to the idea, and that it was “merely a pipe dream of a staff member that wants to fuel his ego and ruffle feathers.”

In all likelihood, this “pipe dream” will never be anything more than that.

But perhaps it can be the start of a meaningful conversation about the future of Los Alamos County.

Ideas should be exchanged. Opinions should be voiced.

Eventually, one of those pipe dreams could become a reality.