LAPS board ponders HQ options

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By Jennifer Garcia

A lot can happen in a year. Last year, the Los Alamos Public Schools administration offices were moved into their current home at 2075 Trinity Drive, after staff vacated the buildings across from the Mari-Mac Shopping Center in preparation for demolition to make way for the Trinity Revitalization Development project.
Not only has the Trinity project taken some twists and turns in that time, but now the school board isn’t so sure that they want to make the building owned by Elmo CdeBaca their permanent home.
The change came about when the board learned that the 3M building was available for lease and a member of the public spoke up at a recent school board meeting and asked the board to consider the building as a place to house LAPS administration. During last week’s school board retreat, the board further discussed the matter and decided to look into the cost of the building.
Superintendent Gene Schmidt said that the board explored their options during the retreat, but did not come up with any proposals.
“At a previous meeting, the board directed administration to come up with a cost factor in terms of what the cost would be for renovations to the building (at 2075 Trinity Drive),” Schmidt said. “And so we were exploring the overall cost of the building compared to the overall cost of other buildings in the county.”
In addition, the school board has signed a letter of intent to purchase the building at 2075 Trinity Drive, however, CdeBaca did not sign the letter, according to LAPS Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe.
“And now the board has asked us to look into the 3M building,” he said. “We’re still in discussion about that.”
Wolfe said that even though a letter of intent was signed, that does not mean that the school board is legally bound to purchase the building.
“Either party could sign this, but that doesn’t mean we have to move forward and buy the building. It was to show Mr. CdeBaca that we had a commitment to move forward at that time with the building,” Wolfe said. “It also doesn’t mean the commitment has changed. We have to determine what the overall costs would be before we make the final decision.”
In the letter of intent to sell and purchase dated Aug. 28, 2010, the document states that LAPS currently holds a month-to-month lease on the property. It also lists a purchase price of $2.4 million.
The 3M building, located at 110 East Gate Drive, has been listed for sale by owner since the company closed operations in Los Alamos earlier this year. Local Realtor Denise Lane has been working with 3M, trying to get the building leased for them.
“3M has a four-year lease on the building,” she said. “They’ve asked me to find a tenant or sublease to take on the lease.” She also said that the property is not listed through her real estate company, ReMax.
Lane however, could not say whether the owner of the
building would be interested in selling the building.
“I don’t think anything’s on the table,” Lane said of the school board. “They were in information-gathering mode. It hasn’t gone beyond ‘let’s get all the information together and see if the school board thinks this makes sense,’ ” she said.
Lane did say that she thought the 3M building would be a nice facility for the school board to have. “It would speak well for the community,” she said.
Schmidt wanted to make clear that all avenues are being explored before a final purchase decision is made.
“Any time you’re involved in the use of the public’s money, we want to make the best decision you can possibly make. You want to explore all options,” he said.