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Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part series regarding Los Alamos County Council’s consideration of four upcoming projects.
The County Recreation Division is pursuing a new golf course clubhouse as a Capital Improvement Project because the current structure is literally beginning to crumble.
“Better than half the facility is not operational – and most of it hasn’t even been inhabitable for more than a decade,” Recreation Manager Randy Smith said. Until recently, the top floor of the facility, which housed locker rooms more than a decade ago, had morphed into a storage space due to structural and roofing issues. That storage space has now disappeared because of the toll that heavy snows and moisture took on the building in January, Smith said.
The upstairs rooms, as well as the kitchen located underneath, had to be completely closed off when the roof, walls and flooring sustained significant water damage and were deemed dangerous for the public.
Without a kitchen, use of the adjacent community room has been restricted to recreational activities such as table tennis or karate classes.
Most groups want access to kitchen facilities in order to prepare dinners or hire caterers who need a functional kitchen, he said.
“In many communities with a public golf course, you would have an attractive, multi-functional community room as part of the clubhouse that would be modern and spacious. It would be a place that can be used for a variety of purposes like community events, class reunions, wedding banquets and business functions,” Smith said. “However, here in Los Alamos, we have an antiquated clubhouse that doesn’t even begin to compare to facilities you would find in smaller towns across New Mexico. We’ve had this project on the back burner for so many years without the proper funding for design and construction – the facility has just continued to degrade over time. Something has to be done.”
Golf course and recreation division staff, the Parks and Recreation Board and dozens of citizens representing a variety of golf and community programs needs became the driving force last year to take a Phase 1 study application before the county council and gain their approval to take the next step, Smith said.
The project was ranked as the top priority for the Parks and Recreation Board. An architectural firm was hired, public meetings were held along with focus groups with primary users of the building.
Consultants have developed a study and conceptual designs for the proposed new clubhouse, now renamed the Golf Course Community Building, Smith said.
“The new building will really be a great combination of space not only for golf enthusiasts, but for the public as well,” he said, emphasizing that the golf course has struggled to attract tournaments to Los Alamos because there are no facilities adequate to host the event. Other amenities that are basic to golf courses around the country also have been addressed in the new building, such as improved restrooms and added locker rooms and a snack bar. An improved golf cart storage area calls for placing the carts underneath the building to take advantage of the topography of the site.
“The architect did a good job of using the input received from the users, along with comparing the operational aspects of running the golf course day to day,” Capital Projects and Facilities Director Anne Laurent said. “For example, the new building gains efficiencies because the office layout can be designed in a way to allow golf course professional staff to be in the golf shop area. With the ability to have more direct oversight of the golf shop during off-peak seasons, that could translate to less hiring of casual and temporary staff.”
The new building also means better efficiencies in environmental designs, she said.
“The poor condition of the wood structure building including wood rot from years of moisture exposure, along with its lack of code compliant design, has been well documented,” Laurent said. “With a new building, the goal is a public friendly and accommodating design, resulting in future increased revenues.”
The new Golf Course Community Building will replace the existing structure and is expected to total approximately 15,000 square feet. The construction cost is currently estimated at $4.6 million with a total project budget of approximately $5.4 million. The proposed footprint could include expansion to the east to include space currently occupied by the golf course pool, which has private membership but resides on county land.
By mutual consent, the golf course pool lease was not renewed this year due to infrastructure needs and the pending clubhouse project, Laurent said.
The new outdoor space also may include an expanded deck with views of the course and surrounding mountains, Smith said.
“One theme we heard over and over again in all of our meetings is that the golfers and members of the community really like the outdoor patio area and wanted to see that feature enhanced and expanded,” he said.
The new green space to the east of the building could be repurposed to accomadate outdoor tents during summer months, expanding the number of events hosted at the golf course.
That’s important, Smith said, because it will increase the revenue that comes to the county not only from rental fees, but related aspects such as increased tourism, dining and shopping downtown and overnight stays at local hotels.
“We have a great public course, but our lack of a modern, efficient clubhouse is a real detriment to marketing the course – and our community,” Smith said. “We’ve had feedback from many individuals who want to book tournaments here, but won’t do so because we have such an inadequate facility.”
A new marketing plan would be in the works soon after the approval of the final design and construction of the new building, if the council agrees to fund the project when they consider it in June.
Smith said the existing building could remain intact while the new building is being constructed, resulting in zero downtime for the golf course.
“Forty years ago, this used to be a premier facility,” Smith said, “But not anymore. We’re at a critical juncture in the history of the golf course in Los Alamos. There is an urgent need for action, and judging from the amount of community support, we are hopeful that the council will fund this project.
The council will consider the project at 7 p.m., June 8 in council chambers inside the community Building.
Copies of the Phase 1 and 2 application, as well as the study, are available at www.losalamos