Council OKs Sullivan Field parking lot facelift

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By Kirsten Laskey

Despite costing six coveted parking spaces, the Los Alamos County Council agreed during its regular Dec. 14 meeting to bring landscape features to Sullivan Field parking lot.
Council approved the landscape design option at an estimated cost of $75,000-$100,000 and directed county staff to return with more developed plans, a cost estimate and a budget revision. Staff also was instructed to coordinate the effort with Los Alamos Public Schools, which owns Sullivan Field.
The parking lot at Sullivan Field isn’t typically praised for being attractive. Before construction started on Diamond Drive, the lot was a slab of asphalt riddled with potholes.
Dick McIntyre, Parks Division manager, said the option council approved includes 15-foot by 10-foot planters placed about 60 feet apart and housing shrubs and small trees.
As part of the project, shade trees would be planted along the Mesa Field roadway and the Lemon Lot also would receive planters.
The landscaping will match what is featured along Central Avenue, McIntyre said.
Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman added that Councilor Mike Wheeler has inquired about the sidewalks and whether a buffer caused by the bicycle lane on Diamond Drive could be expanded. Current Diamond Drive drawings call for expanding the sidewalk from 4 feet to 5 feet, Zimmerman said. Wheeler was interested in expanding the sidewalk west of the parking lot. The Public Works Division intends to study the possibility as well as looking into developing a greater buffer between traffic and pedestrians.
Six spaces would be eliminated as result of the landscaping project. Council Chair Sharon Stover said the approved option allows the county to spiff up its parking lot while not greatly decreasing the number of parking spaces for those attending sporting events at Sullivan Field.
“It was a good compromise,” she said. “It only takes out six parking spaces versus 32 in the other option. It will be more aesthetically pleasing than just seeing a black sea of pavement.”
McIntyre said he plans to work on the project with Vicki Nelms, the athletic director at Los Alamos High School.
Not all councilors support landscaping the lot.
“On listening to the concerns of the school board and parents who don’t want to lose the revenue by the parking spaces that would be lost because we would be putting landscaping and trees there,” Councilor Vincent Chiravalle said he decided to vote against the project.
“Now is not the time to take sports revenue away from the schools,” he added.