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LA officials want Manhattan Project NHP to grow

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Future plans > Regional coalition hears plans for park Friday

By Tris DeRoma

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities heard from Los Alamos representatives Friday about future plans for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park, starting with a proposed “Tourism Strategic Plan.”  
The county will soon put out a request for proposals to find a contractor to draw up the plan. Los Alamos representatives involved with the park’s growth See this as a guide for the park’s future growth.
“That will give us a road map for the next five to seven years on how we can best utilize the three parks we now have in our region,” Assistant to County Manager Linda Matteson said.
The other two parks are Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The Manhattan Project Park is one of the more unique parks in the National Park system, in that there are many areas that are still actively a part of the Hanford, Washington, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos portions of the park that can’t be accessed due to secrecy.
About a year ago, a computer design team came up with an app that allows users to virtually access those secret sites from outside the gates using augmented reality overlaid with historical photographs. The only problem with  the app is that takes up a huge amount of data. The county is working on installing a public wi-fi system to help tourists that take the tour around the Los Alamos County portion of the park.
Some of the buildings and sites on Los Alamos National Laboratory property that have been there since the beginning of the Manhattan Project aren’t considered top secret, but can’t be accessed because they are in disrepair and so aren’t safe.
“The DOE (Department of Energy) and the lab are working on those issues,” Matteson said. “They are assessing what needs to be done and then trying to figure out how they are going to grant public access.”
The National Park Service is also working to add information and programs to the tour that tell the story of native populations displaced across all three nuclear facilities as well as tell the stories of the people that worked there.
Other expansion strategies included making the annual Los Alamos Sciencefest event bigger and more well-known, and making the Manhattan Project story more well known in New Mexico’s schools and communities.
During the public comment section of the meeting, Myrriah Gomez, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico Honors College hoped that the representatives of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park also include the stories of those negatively impacted by presents of LANL in New Mexico.
My concern is that people aren’t going to be left out at this point,” Gomez said. “My concern is that this story won’t be told accurately.”
Regional Coalition Chair Barney Trujillo liked what he saw. Trujillo thought Matteson’s presentation was exciting
“Not only was it a great presentation, but it’s an awesome project,” Trujillo said. “I’m really excited that the history behind it is actually getting told, and I’m looking forward to when we are going to be able to go through the project itself and immerse yourself into how it was at the time.”