Council given big kiosk presentation

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By Jennifer Garcia

Visitors to the Atomic City will find navigating their way through the downtown area much easier this summer, if all goes according to plan.

During Tuesday night’s county council meeting, Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation Executive Director Kevin Holsapple addressed the council, giving a PowerPoint presentation and a life-size cardboard example of what the kiosks would look like.

The project started in July of 2008 when council approved an award of the Central Avenue Streetscape Project to SG Western, Inc. and established a project budget in the amount of $1,768,908 for improvements along Central Avenue.

In November of the same year, staff provided council with a briefing on additional Central Avenue Streetscape Project Improvements that were funded by a supplemental MainStreet grant award. At the Nov. 3, 2008 meeting, Councilor Michael Wheeler made a motion to “accept the New Mexico Main Street award of $80,000 and apply such funds to the cost of purchasing and installing kiosks, a banner support structure and a wireless public address system and return, if necessary, for any contract or budget revisions.”

That motion passed 7-0.

As part of the mid-year budget revisions, the $80,000 was allocated to the Central Avenue Streetscape Project budget. In addition, the expenditure of the grant funds must occur before June 20, 2009, according to the final grant documentation.

The grant was issued to the county, partnering with Los Alamos Community Development Corporation and MainStreet Los Alamos and is being administered by the county.

The equipment will be managed by MainStreet Los Alamos, but the county will retain ownership.

There are four kiosks scheduled for installation at the following locations: the north side of Central Avenue at Bathtub Row, the north side of Central Avenue at Main Street, the north side of Central Avenue between 15th Street and Knecht Street and the north side of Central Avenue at Knecht Street.

Brian Hurshman of Spark Plug Studio in Los Alamos will construct the kiosks.

They will be made of powder-coated metal and will feature blade signage for dining, shopping, museums and other downtown attractions.

“The idea is to have the ability for pedestrians to better find their way around town,” Holsapple explained. The kiosks will also feature quotations related to the topic of discovery, tying into the “Where Discoveries Are Made” theme and Los Alamos history.

Input was solicited from the Los Alamos Historical Society, which in turn, solicited input from its members and came up with quotations from Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Gen. Leslie Groves and Albert Szent-Gyorgi.

In addition to the kiosks, an entry banner to be used for announcing upcoming activities in town was also proposed, however, because of county traffic department concerns, the idea is being reworked.

“We’re in discussion with the schools for placing a banner facility at Canyon school that will provide information on upcoming activities,” Holsapple said. “We’d use that for informational purposes.”

Holsapple also said that the state wants these types of projects completed by the end of the fiscal year. “We’re very interested in seeing that completed in that time frame,” he said.

As part of the project, the installation of a public address system is also in the works.

The system will be used for special events on Central Avenue and will feature handheld devices that hearing impaired people will be able to check out for use during the events.

Following Holsapple’s presentation, councilors were afforded the opportunity to ask questions about the Central Avenue plans. Councilor Robert Gibson was concerned that the kiosks might become the target of graffiti and wanted to know if the kiosks would be constructed of a type of material that could be easily cleaned in such an event.

Holsapple said that the kiosks will be made of powder coated metal, not any type of special material. “There’s always that potential. We asked for them to be modular, so if a panel is damaged it can be easily replaced at minimal charge,” Holsapple responded.

Council Chair Michael Wheeler told Holsapple that he’ll be happy to see the Atomic City kiosks. “This should go a long way in informing the public of where they can find these services,” he commented.

No action was taken during the meeting on this topic, as the information provided by Holsapple was intended solely as an update.