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The central question of the Muni is: Do we want it back at the pond or not? Everything else is a side issue.
If the answer is yes, then we can get it done. At this juncture, I would prefer to avoid “going negative.” Towards that end, I have posted on my blog, losalamosrealitycheck.blogspot.com, the reasons I believe the answer should be “yes” (and I hope to have the Monitor run that, though it is a bit lengthy.)
This is not a replica - it can’t be. This is building anew from an existing set of architectural designs by Max Flatow.
People who will say no to this are simply using the side-issues as a peg to hang their hat on. As I say, I would prefer to stay positive on this but I suppose I’ll have to deal with some side issues.
•The LA Apartment site was purchased by the county for the express purpose of turning it over to a developer. The costs of the purchase and clearing the site are not costs to the Muni project - they are costs, which would have accrued in any event.
• The building will be big enough for the purpose. Remember, a) the original only had a one third size basement and the new building will have a full basement; b) the original housed the court and court offices, the new building won’t, c) the perimeter can be expanded by about 10 - 15 feet to the west adding approximately 3,000 to 4,500 square feet to the building.
Most importantly the building does not have to house all of county government - there are very few places with as much government as we have that do not have more than one government building. The building must house the council and those departments which have the highest public interaction - in other words, all of the departments which were there in the first place (except Public Works). But we don’t need a “one-stop shop” building nor do we need management by walk-about, nor do we need a group hug. The Annex, which was on Trinity, housed Utilities, Planning, and Facilities.
Of these, the customer service portion of Utilities should be in the Muni, and this is readily possible since we won’t be using any space for the Court -- the rest could well be housed elsewhere, either at Airport Basin or in the new civic center being planned for White Rock.
•I don’t want to hammer the Steering Committee. However, the pond site was never given the amount of consideration as were the “downtown” sites. This is not entirely the fault of the Committee. Here are some facts which are not getting to the public.
a) The committee members were first given a list of criteria and asked to weight the criteria by importance.
Each member did so, as did I, and then those individual weightings were averaged.
b) The committee was then asked to rate each of 24 sites using the averaged criteria weightings. Each member did so, as did I. Some members did have the pond site in the top 5, as did I, however the ratings were then averaged and that brought the site to number 11.
c) Once the sites were rated, a motion was made to eliminate the bottom one-third of the site list (this would have included sites like the Farmer’s Market parking lot and some of the White Rock sites); the remaining sites were then to have been given a more in-depth analysis.
Had this motion passed the pond site as well as the site of the current Community Building, the 15th and Trinity site, and the Lavy Lane site would still have been in consideration. However, a substitute motion was made to eliminate all but the top one third sites. There was no public comment allowed on this substitute motion. And that, folks, is how the Pond site was eliminated from further study.
A final note on this topic - the Steering Committee was not given as much information as it should have had.
For instance, they were told 48,000 sq ft, not 66,000 sq ft; they were not given a complete traffic study, which having now been finally done indicates that a light will be needed at Knecht and Central; they were not told about the various issues regarding zoning - the site was re-zoned after the fact; they were not given an economic opportunity cost comparison of the pond to the downtown sites (since the pond site had been eliminated early on).
The Steering Committee did the best they could given inadequate knowledge and a hinky system of rating by criteria. The only mistake they made was to pass the substitute motion eliminating the pond and several other sites from serious study.
• An intiative petition requires a number of signatures equalling 15% of the votes cast in the previous general election. For this petition that number was 1,668. This is hardly “a small minority” as has been alleged. The 1,668 is only what was required for the petition - it is not the total amount of support that might have been garnered. We wound up with 1,960 sigs, however based on the number of voters per household where only one person signed and no others were asked there is a potential 1,078 extra votes giving a range of between 1,960 - 3,038 in favor.
Nor is this the total and only amount of support which exists in the community - that amount will be determined by a general vote. Additionally, the signatures were collected door-to-door as a public opinion survey - I kept strict track of the number of people who said “no” or were undecided. Of the total number asked 75 percent signed the petition, 14 percent were decidedly opposed, and 11percent had no opinion. By any math, those opposed were decidedly less than those in favor. Which, then, constitute “a small minority”?
Again, these are all side-issues. The only real issue at question is do we want a new version of our original Muni?