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School board approves contractor for parking lot renovation

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos Board of Education recently approved a contractor to renovate the parking lot for the school administration headquarters at 2075 Trinity Drive.

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The winning and lowest bid was awarded to ESA Construction with a base bid of $253,800.

The bid also included alternatives, one for landscaping, another was for a wall and the last was for additional paving near the headquarters’ additional suites located adjacent to it. The school district currently rents those suites to other businesses.

ESA’s bid for the landscaping was $32,200, the wall was $18,700 and the paving was $21,100.

The board then had a discussion on whether or not to approve some or all of the alternatives.

Board approval of all alternatives would put the total cost of the project coming in at $306,800. That number may go down in the future however, since the district has also put a capital request of $64,000 in to the county. As of press time, the current status of that request is not known.

According to District Assets Manager Joanie Ahlers, there was more they wanted to do with the site as far as landscaping was concerned, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t let them uncap the parking lot due to environmental concerns and the parking lot happens to be ground zero for all of the town’s power supply; about 47,000 volts run through a vault underneath.

“Because of those two factors, a lot of our very cool landscaping ideas had to go by the wayside,” Ahlers told the board.

Landscaping alternatives around the building could instead include gabion baskets (baskets filled with stone, to alter the look of the landscape) and decorative boulders. Since the parking lot is also going to be repainted to force traffic flow in one direction, the lot will also gain an additional entrance/exit and eight spaces when it’s done.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt urged the Board to approve at least some of the alternatives, as he believes it would help the district rent out any vacant suites.

“Even though it adds additional cost, we are increasingly in a competitive market to rent them, and any little bit of curb appeal adds to the marketability of a piece of property.

The board unanimously approved the base bid plus all three alternatives, 5-0.