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White Rock plan takes shape

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By Katy Korkos

White Rock residents gathered Wednesday for the fourth Community Forum on a redevelopment plan for White Rock’s commercial core. The plan is funded by the Los Alamos County Council, which has also promised to fund projects to draw more private investment to the suburb where one-third of county residents live.The turnout in White Rock Town Hall was somewhat smaller than the previous three meetings, which saw as many as 80 residents in the White Rock Fire Station. The substance of the plan was generated at those previous meetings, but consultants Moore Iacofano Goitsman (MIG) are still collecting both input and feedback from residents.“We’re in the home stretch with this plan,” Chris Beynon of MIG said in his introduction. “This plan continues to reflect your desires as a community.”Two community charrettes held in December resulted in a consensus to create a center of gravity for development at the corner of Sherwood Boulevard and N.M. 4, with a safe intersection that would lead to new construction on the A-19 parcel.“We looked at projects that might energize or catalyze development,” said Dan Guimond, the principal of Economic and Planning Systems (EPS).Guimond has worked in the county previously, preparing the initial market study for development of the A-19 parcels in addition to other projects. His analysis used a point system to prioritize that projects are feasible for development: a mixed-use town center, workforce housing and a small business incubator. Planners then drew up conceptual drawings that showed how those might look.The drawings and maps were well received by the audience, who continued to add suggestions for improvements to the plan. Those improvements included adding suitable landscaping for the area, preparing for alternate fuel or electric vehicles, linking trails and pathways with the Red Dot/Blue Dot trails, and providing camping for both tents and recreational vehicles.The plan will lay out both short- and long-term projects to be completed by the county, by public-private partnerships and by the private sector. Short-term county projects could include continuing the Cañada del Buey arroyo path, landscaping along Sherwood Boulevard and improvements to Piñon Park.The mixed-use town center – which would include a visitors and interpretive center as well as a relocated branch library, senior center and town hall – drew the most public comment from the people who attended Wednesday, many of whom had also attended previous White Rock planning meetings.Four county councilors were in the audience, and the White Rock residents asked how the county would follow up on its commitment to fund projects in White Rock.“Everything is spent up town,” one resident said. “Will the county council support (White Rock redevelopment)?”Councilor Jim Hall responded by saying that the hearings for the county’s biannual budget, covering 2009 and 2010, would be held in April, and budget proposals should be submitted before mid-March. Councilor Ken Milder added that the council had talked about where to put funding in its strategic planning sessions.People who attended the meeting were asked to fill out comment cards asking for their opinions on the recommended catalytic projects and public improvements. Those cards can be returned at both public libraries, and residents are welcome to submit their comments electronically. The steering committee will review the input from Wednesday’s forum and guide the creation of the draft plan to be presented to the community on March 18.To learn more and to download project documents, visit www.planningwhiterock.org.