What makes a town special?

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,

What makes a town “special?”  Oddly enough it is not the people.  We speak of “the town and its people,” or the “townsfolk,” both of which entail the concept that each, the town and the people of the town, are separate entities. 

Populations cycle, every 20 years in Los Alamos. People are people everywhere, subject to the various good and questionable aspects of the condition of being a people.

Nor is it the setting. Though Los Alamos is blessed with a stunning natural setting there are countless other towns along our coasts and mountain ranges which are equally blessed. 

What makes a town special is the town itself.  Its public and private structures, its plan and layout, its use of its resources, all combine to make the town unique unto itself.  We hardly find ourselves in a small New England village and remark on its “quaint charm” as referrence to its people.  Nor do we remark on the pleasantness of a mid-western town in referrence to its rather flat and inconspicuous surround.  We refer to the town itself.

What makes Los Alamos Los Alamos is the town that was built in the A.E.C. era, 1949 - 1967, of which our Municipal Building was the centerpiece.  It is this portion that makes our town unique unto itself and which, should it survive “political correctness” and the social/cultural milieu au currant, will, in the fullness of time, be appreciated for being different than any other place. 

Yet look at the buildings that have come after.  Many, including the new JPJ, have a sense of ubiquitous same-ol-same-ol; a feeling of “gee, that could be anywhere and I’ve seen it pretty much everywhere.”

 If Los Alamos continues on the course of becoming more and more less and less worthy of remark for its unique differences then does it not stand to reason that given the choice between living here and living anywhere else, when here and anywhere else are pretty much indistiguishable, there is no choice and we will attract no one?

 Do we really want Los Alamos to become nothing more than a non-descript dot on the map?

 Richard Hannemann

Los Alamos