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Council: Demolition could begin in May

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By Marganne Glasser

The landmark Municipal Building could come down as soon as May with the site restoration completed in August, the Los Alamos County Council was informed at its regular meeting Tuesday.The council voted 6-to-0 to authorize an agreement with Paul Parker Construction, a New Mexico Corporation with an office in Los Alamos, providing for demolition and remediation services. The discovery of asbestos in the window putty and the cost of abatement tipped the scales toward rebuilding instead of remodeling, according to agenda documents.County Engineering Project Manager Steven Huebner explained that Parker Construction’s cost of $694,706 was considerably lower than the competing bid. He said that the project footprint would be minimized. A fence will surround the current building five to 10 feet from its perimeter.Councilor Fran Berting asked if the trees and vegetation would remain. Huebner replied that the Ponderosa pines on the site may be trimmed but will be left intact. The crab apple trees will be dug up and replanted if possible.“We all value the park and don’t want to damage it in any way,” Huebner said, adding that the HVAC air conditioning unit, ceramic tile mural, brass plaques, and outdoor art will be preserved and stored for reinstallation.Huebner said the contract includes installing grass and a sprinkler system. This could be delayed until after the judicial/police/jail complex is completed if the site is used for staging that project.Councilor Michael Wheeler asked if the planned air monitoring was necessary. Huebner replied that it was a safety measure because of asbestos abatement in close proximity to public events such as concerts and the Thursday farmers market.Councilor Vice-Chair Robert Gibson said his estimate of $114,000 for demolition consulting and additional testing seemed excessive for a building that is coming down. Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said that this allowance might not be spent, but would prevent project delays in case of unforeseen drainage or contamination problems. He said the consulting budget of $20,000 would include testing and independent review for regulatory compliance, if needed.Zimmerman assured the council that the popular Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series would continue uninterrupted, at other venues if necessary.Councilor Nona Bowman summed it up: “We all mourn the loss of the heritage of the building.”