Safety pushes CIP proposals

-A A +A
By Kirsten Laskey

Safety and environmental reasons motivated the Los Alamos County Recreation Division staff to seek funding for studies on improving and upgrading the Los Alamos Ice Rink.
Three proposed capital improvement projects address the rink’s parking lot, bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as installing a lift station.  
Los Alamos Hockey Association is proposing another potential upgrade to the outdoor rink, an arena cover.
The Capital Improvement Project Evaluation and Oversight Committee have been reviewing these projects along with 12 others. The 16 applications will be scored and ranked during a public meeting Nov. 18 before being sent on to the Los Alamos County Council for final consideration. All of the project requests require funding for an initial study. The next phase of the application process is for design and construction funds.
Dianne Marquez, ice rink manager, said rink patrons parking along the north side of West Road and then crossing into traffic to get to the rink prompted staff to take action. “We are just really concerned there’s going to be a person/vehicle collision,” she said. “We just want to make sure people are safe.”
Randy Smith, recreation division manager, agreed. “I think proposals are geared around safety and environmental issues … primarily the parking lot (project) is to constitute the parking in a safe area rather than parking in the road,” he said. “Parking alongside the road, patrons will have to cross the road to get to the rink and many times the road is icy and snowy, making for unsafe driving conditions.”
As a result, the staff is proposing expanding the parking lot by 44 additional parking spaces on the land west of the rink. Additionally, parallel parking on West Road would then be prohibited by installing a guardrail on the north side.  
Environmental reasons are driving recreation division staff to pursue a lift station, Marquez said.
She said staff is proposing converting the holding tank at the rink into a lift station and connecting to the county’s utility lines for its water and sewage.
A lift station, she explained, acts like a pump station. It takes in water and sewage and pushes it into the utility lines. The station would eliminate issues of overflow, Marquez said.
“We want to be careful, considering we are part of the watershed down here,” she said.
The project is do-able, Marquez added, because the rink does have a water line easement agreement with the Department of Energy. It should be simple to revisit the current agreement and make the necessary modifications, Marquez said.  
An increasing number of participants in the rink’s hockey program resulted in the Zamboni shed being transformed into a changing room for female skaters. A garage structure Zamboni has since replaced the shed.
However, Marquez said there are issues with privacy and heating.
As a result, the proposal involves tearing down the former shed and replacing it with four locker rooms and a co-ed bathroom.
In addition to these CIP proposals, the hockey association submitted a separate application to erect a cover for the rink.
Marquez said it would have a steel frame and a soft cover, which would reach to the sides of the rink and the bleachers. The cover would be retractable, she said.  
Smith said, “It’s a good idea to have one (a cover). It does increase the recreational opportunities at that facility.”
All four projects were presented to the CIP committee in October and now the applicants are waiting to see how their proposals compare to the other projects submitted.
Although there are multiple projects submitted for the ice rink, Marquez said, the parking lot improvements would be the top priority because of the safety issue presented in the current parking lot.
This is not the first CIP project the rink has submitted. In 2002, Marquez said the rink received a $1.3 million renovation, which included refrigeration, new dashboards and glass and a new Zamboni garage.
The new CIP request, she said, “is our way to keep this facility the gem that it is.”
Plus, it keeps people coming back to the rink.
“The community is invested in this facility,” Marquez said, adding it was the public’s comments regarding the parking conditions and overflow issues with the rink’s water and sewage that promoted the staff to seek the CIP proposals.
“It’s really information from our users in this facility,” she said.