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Branding a town and helping that town find an identity that is appealing to visitors is no easy task. Just ask the White Rock Center Master Plan Implementation Committee.
Those folks have been working diligently to find ways to make White Rock appealing and tap into some of the quarter of a million visitors that go to Bandelier each year.
During Tuesday night’s County Council meeting held in the White Rock Town Hall, County Housing Programs Manager Steven Brugger, along with White Rock Center Master Plan Implementation Committee President Kent Budge and Vice President Dennis Erickson, presented councilors with an update on the master plan.
The committee is made up of 17 people that were appointed by council on July 29.
For the past few months, the committee has been tasked with advising staff on the implementation of the White Rock Center Master Plan.
In the plan, there were eight projects that were deemed as “immediate attention” items:
• Creation of implementation committee.
• Designation of lead county department for implementation.
• Assumption of operations control over State Road 4.
• Development of an RV parking strategy.
• Negotiation of development agreement for A-19 parcel.
• Design of visitors/orientation center.
• Design and construction of gateway arches or monuments.
• Design of State Road 4 improvements.
The first two items on the list have been completed and the county engineer is working with the Department of Transportation on the county’s request to assume operational control over the portion of SR 4 that runs through White Rock.
In addition, the County Administrator’s Office is negotiating with the prospective developer of the A19 parcel.
In an effort to get the plan off the ground, the WRCMPIC has submitted four Capital Improvement Project applications for the other four “immediate action items.”
“There was concern that we (the committee) had lost momentum, but things are rolling along,” Budge said. “We’ve submitted four CIP applications to help carry out the plan.”
Erickson also remained upbeat about the committee’s progress.
“Our energy, excitement and provocation continue. You suggested we move to planning actions and we have done so,” he said. “We were surprised by the number of citizens in the audience (at the CIP review meeting). We got some tough questions. The process has served the county well and provided framework.”
Councilor Nona Bowman said whatever the committee decides on for the gateway monument will be the determining factor in whether people stop in White Rock.
“I feel this project will draw a lot of visitors to White Rock,” she said.
Councilor Robert Gibson told Budge and Erickson that he was delighted to see the committee back at full speed and implementing the project, rather than just working on it.
“What’s the next major activity?” he asked.
In response, Budge said the committee needs to work on the issue of branding the town of White Rock. “Getting a sense of identity will be very important,” he said.
Councilor Vincent Chiravalle asked Erickson for clarification on the cost of the project.
“The total cost is $660,000?” he queried.
“That’s a stepping stone to construction design,” Erickson replied.
In addition, Budge suggested that there may be an opportunity for communication between the committee and officials from San Ildefonso Pueblo, which is located down the road from White Rock.
Council Chair Michael Wheeler said there is strong competition between Los Alamos and San Ildefonso, but also suggested that the committee cooperate with them.
“They’ve identified parcels they plan to develop. If the RV Park fits better on San I property, then we should welcome that and use the county property for something else.”
Councilor Sharon Stover commended the committee for the job they have done so far.
“Kent and Dennis got everyone energized about this. All the meetings are open to the public. I want to thank them for the strong leadership on this,” she said.