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In many cases, this newspaper will remain neutral regarding local option issues and elections opting instead to let citizens enliven the debate through guest editorials and letters to the editor.
With regard to the leisure pool issue currently before voters in a mail-in ballot question, the Los Alamos Monitor is going to step from the gray of neutrality onto the black and white of this page.
The leisure pool represents more than just a pool. The project is more than just a lazy man’s way to while away the hours on a hot summer afternoon, or a place for kids to become exorcised of way too much energy.
No doubt, there are those who have expressed concern about the issuance of bonds and the ongoing operating costs for the leisure pool. But at some point, the people of Los Alamos need to wake up and smell the coffee.
Young people are fleeing as quickly as they can grab a high school diploma — off to college, military service, or just to get the heck out of Dodge. The population here is shrinking, and the average age of residents is getting older and grayer.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t wait to get back to civilization” when talking about a vacation or a trip some place? And it always seems that if you want to do this or that, well then you need to go “off the hill.”
It’s a baffling proposition really. This is the sixth richest county in the United States, according to Forbes. But you’d never know it looking around. Folks venturing into town for the first time are greeted by a lot of vacant storefronts in buildings that date from the 40s and 50s. In fact, the only new buildings in the last 20 years have been built by the county, not private enterprise.
It appears as though this is a dilemma on the grandiose scale of the chicken and the egg. The town can’t grow if it can’t attract and keep residents. If the town can’t grow, then it will never attract the kind of retail and residential revitalization that will attract and grow its population even more.
In the relative scheme of things, Los Alamos is young as towns go. The citizens of today are really in the driver’s seat in terms of what this town will or won’t be 20 years from now.
People can decide to rock along and let the town stay basically as it is, which is unquestionably in a state of decline. Or, they can opt to get aggressive in terms of securing a future for the town by taking positive steps to provide as many amenities as possible and work toward a revitalization of the town as a whole.
That’s really what the leisure pool project represents: an amenity. That’s it in a nutshell. Sure it will require a $3 million bond, and undoubtedly some level of subsidization will be required to cover operating costs — the jury is still out on just how much. But it represents a step forward.
Without a series of such efforts, the handwriting is on the wall for Los Alamos and the story is not a good one. If this town can’t reverse the population declines and begin to lower the average age of its residents, then Los Alamos will have a very short future.
It’s time for the residents of Los Alamos to vote yes for the future of this town by voting yes on the leisure pool.