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Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved $91,000 in new public art Tuesday. The municipal building, justice center and nature center will all receive either purchased or commissioned pieces. In addition, council also approved two newly donated pieces for the aquatic center and White Rock visitor center.
All the new acquisitions are created by local or regional artists.
“I think this is an example of how as a community we establish ourselves, provide a certain self image and self respect and highlight some of the talents that are in our town,” Councilor David Izraelevitz said.
Expenditures for the acquisitions will come from the Art in Public Places Fund, a dedicated fund generated from a 1-percent tax on all Capital Improvement Projects and a .5-percent tax on all road construction projects costing more than $20,000.
The approved purchases include:
• $5,000 for 14 small and two large photographs by Minesh Bacrania documenting the construction of the municipal building. The photographs will be placed on the third floor of the municipal building.
• $2,450 for the purchase of four 14” x 14” watercolor paintings and a 24” x 24” watercolor depicting aspen scenes by Marjorie Madsen. The paintings will be hung in the second floor conference room of the municipal building.
• $4,800 for the purchase of a 48” x 96” photograph titled “From Los Alamos Looking East” by Don Taylor. The acquisition will be placed on the North Rock Wall of the stairway in the Judicial Center
• $5,500 for a commissioned piece titled “Bamboo” from Valentina Devine. The 92” x 96” fiber artwork, comprised of 50 knitted strips, will be located on the South Lobby Wall of the Judicial Center
• $50,000 to commission an outdoor sculpture for the Nature Center from Greg Reiche. Reiche will develop the design with input from APPB and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Completion and installation are planned prior to the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Council approved additional funds for tax, installation, plaques, lighting and dedication events.
Two pieces donated by Richard Swenson were also approved.
Swenson creates sculpture from “found un-altered objects” such as parts from old farm machinery. A twelve-foot long humpback whale will be installed at the Aquatic Center. A seven-foot long lizard will be placed on the water catchment tank at the White Rock Visitor Center.
“I want to say thank you to all the artists, but in particular, to Mr. Swenson for the generous donation of his work,” Councilor Pete Sheehey said.
“It’s part of the brand Los Alamos wants to project. We are a diverse, creative community. From the Manhattan Project to this day, people came from all over the world, initially to participate in the scientific work here, but they brought their culture and their artistic talent, and that has sprung up all the time they’ve been here.”
APPB also received council approval to continue discussions with San Ildefonso Pueblo artists and “N.M. Pots” to create and install six large pots reflecting Native American styles along the White Rock Corridor of N.M. 4.
Board member Steve Foltyn has been working with the San Ildefonso artist committee, which is recommending a a historic progression of San Ildefonso styles from a corrugated micaceous cookware bowl to a contemporary plate, including a black-on-black jar in the Maria Martinez style.
According to artist committee Chair Barbara Gonzales, the committee would like a video documentary of the entire project.
The project will require council approval. A preliminary project budget is estimated at $75,000.
“I think it’s worth reiterating that not everybody will love every piece. I personally love every piece, and appreciate that it’s such a wide variety of styles, such a wide variety of materials,” Councilor Kristin Henderson said.
“We’ve got local artists. we’ve got local artists with an international background, which I love, because it’s a nod to our international community that we have here.”
In other council business:
• Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover informed council that the third polling station for the June 3 primary election will be moved from the Los Alamos County golf course to the Duane Smith Auditorium.
Los Alamos Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt made the auditorium available after county Attorney Rebecca Ehler informed Stover that the temporary certificate of occupancy for the new golf course community building has not been received from the State of New Mexico.
• With unanimous support, council’s passed a resolution requesting that the Department Of Energy vacate the 1954 decision of the Atomic Energy Commission to rescind Oppenheimer’s security clearance.
• Council approved the rezoning of a 1.26-acre parcel on DP Road from DT-NCO (Downtown Neighborhood Center) To C-3 (Heavy Commercial), the original zoning for that parcel. Henderson voted against the motion, on the grounds that it represented a “piecemeal” approach that could detract from the Comprehensive Plan.
• The Department of Public Utilities received unanimous approval for the sale of second lien utility system revenue bonds up to $25 million. The bonds will refund several of the county’s existing bonds and finance new projects in electric distribution and generation projects.
• Work plans for the county’s boards and commissions were approved unanimously.
• Henderson asked that an ordinance she had introduced to extend the time after which a county facility may be named after a deceased person be removed to a later date.
Sheehey removed a cooperative project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation from the consent agenda. The agreement designates $ 200,000 for design of the Canyon Rim Trail Bridge. NMDOT is contributing $75,000 toward the design cost and has pledged $212,541 toward construction.
During 2013 Capital Improvement Project hearings, council earmarked $500,000 already allocated to the Canyon Rim Trail toward an extension that would join the existing trail to a new section constructed by Smith’s/Kroger.
The estimate cost of building the extension is $1,587,868, largely due to the need to construct a bridge over DP Canyon. Sheehey objected to the estimated cost being so much higher than the amount designated by council.
County Administrator Harry Burgess pointed out that council had merely reallocated funds originally earmarked for building a tunnel under N.M. 502, and that no preliminary estimates for the trail extension had been completed at that time.
Sheehey asked that alternative designs be included, including one eliminating the bridge and constructing a trail through the canyon. Burgess pointed out that the agreement with NMDOT requires the extension to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.
Other councilors also supported a multimodal, ADA accessible extension.
“Our location is so unique and so incredible with these canyons, but not everybody can hike on the trails in the woods…I think it’s probably one of the most constructive projects we have in terms of everybody being able to use it,” Henderson said, pointing out that ADA accessibility also makes the trail practical for strollers and young children on bicycles.
Council approved the agreement 6−1. Councilor Frances Berting opposed the motion, expressing concern about the cost of the project in light of all the other CIP projects under consideration.
Sheehey also asked that a discussion of the county’s branding initiative be placed on a future agenda at the earliest possible date.