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Municipal Building site vote too close to call

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A slight preference for Site 6 will be presented to council

By Carol A. Clark

Committee members wrestled for nearly three hours Wednesday evening to determine which of two final sites would best serve a new 47,000 square foot Municipal Building.

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Irene Powell ultimately moved to recommend to county council both sites, seconded by Peggy Pendergast. Terry Goldman added a friendly amendment that the committee recommend both sites with a slight preference for the county-owned Los Alamos Apartments (Site 6) on Central Avenue because of uncertainties surrounding acquisition costs and acquisition timing of the other, privately owned commercial property (Site 13) across the street.

The motion passed unanimously by the 14-member committee present. Tina Sibbitt submitted her vote by e-mail placing a preference on Site 13 but agreeing either site would work, which was taken into account in the final score, ranked from 13 criteria.

The final score was 95.7 for Site 6 and 91.71 for Site 13.

“This committee really did an excellent job of taking council’s guidelines and applying them to all the sites they looked at,” said county planner Paul Belson of the Community Development Department.

CDD Director Rick Bohn explained that during the last four months the committee has met 10 times and considered 25 public and private sites.

At its July 23 meeting, the committee voted to narrow the field to five sites ranked from highest to lowest:

  • The Los Alamos Apartments site on Central Avenue;
  • The privately owned commercial site across the street;
  • A portion of the Trinity Place site;
  • A combination of the privately-owned Shrine Club and Hill Diner properties on Trinity Drive; and
  • The privately owned commercial site at 1650 Trinity, corner of Trinity, Deacon and 15th streets.  

Bohn and his staff will work with the committee to develop a full recommendation report to present to county council Oct. 27.

Beginning today, the public can weigh in on the final two sites through the Oct. 27 council meeting, county spokesperson Julie Habiger said. 

Local businessman Elmo CDeBaca owns Site 13. In his proposal, he offered his property measuring some 3.6 acres to the county for $3.8 million. The property has not been appraised and as a public entity, the county cannot pay more than the appraised value for any property, Bohn said.

The county purchased the Los Alamos Apartments, about 3.7 acres, for $1.2 million in October 2008.  

The county got a bargain because while appraised at $2.4 million, the property was in HUD foreclosure. 

Once county council approves a site, it will take some three years to move through the entire construction process before the community has its new Municipal Building.