No decision on site of Municipal Building

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By Katy Korkos

What are we going to do about the Municipal Building?The ad hoc committee created by council in November 2006 suggested as one of its recommendations that the county pursue downtown redevelopment. The committee suggested that by locating the Municipal Building in the downtown core, it might serve as an anchor for retail development, as well as free up space around Ashley Pond for other cultural activities. Other suggestions of the group were that the building be refurbished in place or that it be demolished and be replaced with a similar building on the same site.After the ad hoc committee report in April, council asked that staff assess the interest from private developers in providing a municipal complex. The county received three responses to its request for interest (RFI) and two completed proposals by the Nov. 30 deadline. Those came from Los Alamos Plaza, LLC, and C1C2 Investments Inc. The agenda documents provided to council for its meeting Tuesday state that the proposal from C1C2 was found to be “non-responsive” by a committee comprised of Assistant County Administrator Tony Mortillaro, Community Development Director Rick Bohn, Housing Programs Manager Steve Brugger, Chief Financial Officer Steve Lynne, County Administrator Max Baker, Councilor Robert Gibson and Councilor Nona Bowman.“Ashley Pond is extremely valuable to our town,” Hall said. “We’re chewing up green space incrementally – that’s of deep concern to me. I’m very disappointed that we don’t have a proposal to have the county building as another tenant downtown.”The Los Alamos Plaza proposal rated low in light of the established rating criteria, according to the agenda documents. The suggested motion on Tuesday’s council agenda was to either re-solicit proposals or not re-solicit proposals. In the end, neither of those two options were chosen by council.Councilor Fran Berting opened the discussion with a proposed motion that the applicants be allowed to answer questions about the proposals, which might clarify the doubts councilors and the committee had about the developers’ qualifications.Dan Zerfus, of Los Alamos Plaza LLC, spoke during the public comment on the issue, saying, “I do not understand your comment that the private sector is not interested. Councilor Berting’s suggestion is a good one. I put a lot of time and money into the proposal, and I would be happy to answer questions with you.”After much discussion, a motion that failed for lack of a second, several questions to Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales, one withdrawn motion, and two failed motions, councilors agreed to table the discussion on a downtown location for the Municipal Building until the Feb. 5 meeting. Councilor Jim West abstained from voting on the two failed motions, citing personal information he had received. With Councilor Ken Milder’s absence and West’s abstinence, the 3-to-2-to-1 vote on the motion to question the two responders failed. Four votes are needed to pass a motion.Councilors will revisit the Municipal Building discussion at the Feb. 5 meeting, when they are scheduled to hear a report on the costs associated with refurbishing the current building.   Sidebar:Council picks new chair, discusses two issues related to Ashley Pond

When the Los Alamos County Council met on Tuesday, it elected a new council chairperson for 2008 in the center seat. Chair Jim Hall was elected by acclimation, and Robert Gibson assumed the vice chair duties for the coming year.Council also considered two agenda items that directly affect the town center at Ashley Pond. Finding a location for a promised skate park was the source of a lengthy discussion by council and the public, and resulted in council’s directing staff to issue a request for qualifications for design and construction of a skate park facility to be located on 20th Street between Trinity and the Community Building. See Wednesday’s Monitor for coverage of issues surrounding the skate park.The second, more complex issue discussed on Tuesday concerned the disposition of the Municipal Building.