- Special Sections
- Public Notices
After the fire this summer, I thought it would be obvious that spending $5 million for ice rink improvements in a canyon that burns every 11 years would be a bad idea. However, the project continues to creep forward along with grandiose plans to build a teen center, civic center and improve the golf course (another $35 million combined). There are many flaws in the current CIP process and my main concern is the failure to address long-term community needs. I serve on the Parks and Rec board so I will specifically mention recreation needs and also clarify that these opinions are my own.
First, we need an ice rink that can support a consistent skating season and it is doubtful that a cover is sufficient or even appropriate at a site that is surrounded by endangered species and likely to flood. Second, our community does not have enough indoor space to meet the current needs of all our outstanding recreation programs.
One of the most successful county programs is Bear Camp and again this summer the canyon will be closed and these kids moved from the ice rink to Pueblo gym, which is really only suitable for filming creepy horror movies set in the 1950s. The decrepit Pueblo gym also houses programs for wresting, volleyball, badminton, roller derby and many others simply because there is no additional space in the remaining school gyms.
I have been involved with gym rentals for basketball leagues over the last six years and we actually disbanded the girls basketball league two years ago due in part to the difficultly in finding gym space. In White Rock, elementary school teams were required to practice at 8:30 p.m. .or travel to Los Alamos because of competing programs with scouts, Karate, soccer, volleyball and many others in two small school gyms there.
I have also coached basketball teams that practiced in the Middle School cafeteria and in local churches using portable hoops with no floor markings (and so the kids never learn the 3-second rule those years).
This year, we are running a competitive AAU basketball league and four teams do not have any space to practice during the first two weeks in March. I can go on and on about the issues surrounding the lack of gym space and which programs could be expanded and new programs added if we actually built a recreation center with an ice rink, basketball court, indoor track and practice field.
After reviewing some of the current CIP applications, I do not understand why the best ideas from the teen center (or possibly the civic center depending on where you build) could not be combined into a single recreation center with areas that serve the needs of children, teens and adults. These worthwhile groups could and should have been encouraged to work together from the very start to accomplish common goals since lack of indoor space affects all recreation programs.
Finally, the current CIP application process seems like a free-for-all, although we sometimes see a real gem submitted like the recent Nature Center, so I can’t say it’s a complete failure. The Ashley Pond improvements are also outstanding, but these are so obvious and needed that they should proceed without delay. Los Alamos is a wonderful community with many terrific programs. What we desperately need is a recreation center to house these programs and expand recreational opportunities for all community members.