Municipal Building site in council’s court

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County council hopes to decide on new site on Nov. 17

By Carol A. Clark

They persevered four long months, met 10 times together and even more with the community, held three straw polls on 25 potential sites and now the Site Selection Committee’s work is done.

Tuesday evening the committee turned over to county council its

300-page report – and with it the final decision of where to locate the Municipal Building.

The report contains two site recommendations, both of which are in the center of downtown Los Alamos.

Site 6, which received slight preference from the committee, encompasses the former Los Alamos Apartment complex. Site 13 is across the street between Central Avenue and Trinity Drive.

Councilor Vincent Chiravalle participated in the meeting by telephone. He explained his preference for Site 13 to improve that property and allow Site 6 to generate economic revenue, providing Viola’s Restaurant is permitted to remain on Site 13 property.

One of the issues surrounding Site 13 is the number of businesses that would be forced to vacate the premises.

That potentially presents an uncomfortable political situation for the council. Committee member Kendra Henning pointed out the fact that the councilors are not to blame should they select Site 13 because it was the property owner after all who chose to put his property up for sale.

Much discussion ensued regarding the pros and cons of the two sites. The architects and economic analyst presented their views on the two sites and answered councilor questions.

Council voted unanimously to accept the final report of the Municipal Building Site Selection Committee and thanked and commended them for the “excellent work they have done on this difficult task.”  

“We also thank the private property owners who have offered to sell their property to the county in support of our county’s goals,” Council Vice Chair Michael Wismer said.

Now the council will review the report and intends to vote on the final location at its Nov. 17 council meeting.

In other business, council approved 7-0 the addition of $350,000 to the utilities portion of the budget for Diamond Drive Project Phase 3 for a total utilities budget of $2,526,080, excluding gross receipts tax.

Council unanimously approved the 2009-10 Snow and Ice Control Plan.

Council members also unanimously approved the Community Health Council annual report and roster.

Council appointed Y. Ellen Hong to fill the unexpired term of probate judge ending Dec. 31, 2010. Hong received six votes from councilors Chiravalle, Robert Gibson, Ralph Phelps, Wismer, Sharon Stover and Nona Bowman. Barbara Yarnell received one vote from Council Chair Michael Wheeler. No votes were case for Ralph Damiani.

To view the 300-page Municipal Building site selection report, access www.losalamosnm.us.