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WR, Teen Center contracts OK’d

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County > Projects have been scaled back from their original concepts

By Arin McKenna

The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved two Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) contracts in a meeting Tuesday night.
One of the contracts provides $250,000 for remodeling the community building to serve as the Teen Center and the other provides $200,000 to the White Rock municipal complex remodel that will expand the Senior Center and multi-purpose community use space.
Although staff issued a combined Request for Proposals for both projects, they were addressed as individual projects that could be awarded separately. Each had separate interview teams with stakeholder representation.
NCA Architects, LLC, won both bids.
“It was just happenstance that the same firm came out as the highest scoring proposer on both projects,” said Community and Economic Development Director Anne Laurent.
Both projects were greatly scaled back from their original conceptual designs due to limited CIP funding.
The community building is actually the third proposed location for the teen center, following council’s rejection of a proposal for a new 18,000-square-foot facility costing $8,932,000 and a failure to reach an agreement on a lease at Central Park Square.
The White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee’s original concept was for a civic center housing the White Rock Branch Library, Senior Center, Youth Activity Center, Activity Center and Town Hall. The initial proposal came in a $16,055,770 for a 35,685-square-foot facility.
Council instead allotted the $8,400,000 that remained of a $20,000 placeholder for implementing the WRMP. The WRMPIC came back with a revised proposal for a new library and remodels of the Youth Activity Center and the municipal complex.
Contracts for the library and youth activity center were approved in December.
Because both projects are remodels, the contracts separate the design and construction aspects, instead of being the design/build used in many recent CIP projects.
“That allows us to really investigate the existing conditions of the building and figure out the costs,” Laurent said. “All renovations tend to have more unknowns than new construction.”
Both projects include improvements identified by condition assessments, including upgrades to mechanical systems, windows, façades and parking lots. Both remodels must meet LEED Silver Certification.
The teen center project also includes landscaping, possibly building a deck on the Ashley Pond side, security measures and audio-visual and acoustical infrastructure for anticipated A/V equipment to be provided by the Teen Center.
The White Rock project expands the senior center into two of the four municipal complex buildings. The remaining two will be shared community space.
The design calls for a commercial kitchen for the senior center.
Pauline Schneider, the executive director of the senior center, is pursuing additional funding to improve the project, with a focus on the kitchen.
NCA will be locked into the cost estimate they provide at the end of design development, which may require additional condition assessment.
Councilor David Izraelevitz asked how “lessons learned” at the current teen center will be applied to the new facility.
“The teen center was a sponsor of the original study, and their information and requests were very detailed in that study,” Laurent said. “Those have changed a little because of the reduced scope, but we documented what were the priorities to retain from that original study.
“We will work with them through the design and they’ll get to decide what priorities we want to carry forward. It will be a collaborative decision on how to spend this money.”
The design work for the White Rock project may be completed prior to placing the project to bid for construction, since the remodel has to be timed with the completion of the new library.
The county is also looking for lease space in White Rock so the senior center can continue to function while the construction is underway.
The WRMPIC provided a letter in support of the project.
“This is the last project in the White Rock revitalization project, at least as has been planned up until now. Although I think it’s great we’re making progress, obviously, the job is not done because the purpose of this is not just to build a library and a senior center, it is to revitalize that community,” Izraelevitz said. “Now the job will get harder, because we have fewer levers. We have to work through the private sector and community involvement. I think it’s important for us to keep in mind that the process is going to continue.”
Council also approved an update to its Strategic Leadership Plan.
The revised plan divides the strategic focus areas into three categories: economic vitality, quality of life and quality governance.
The focus areas were reduced from 10 to nine, with some minor changes to those. Council also added three goals, for a total of 19.
“The plan has set strategic focus areas, where you believe we should be spending our resources, time and money,” said Deputy County Administrator Brian Bosshardt. “The lion’s share of our time should be spent in those topic areas that you’ve identified in your strategic plan.”
Bosshardt said that the next step will be for staff to reassess their Management Action Plans based on these changes, but that will probably not happen before budget hearings.
Councilors Rick Reiss and Steve Girrens wanted the priorities council had set during a work session included in the document, but both Bosshardt and Council Chair Geoff Rodgers advised against it.
“I would submit to you that priorities get set when we’re building and considering budget with council,” Bosshardt said. “The priority exercise that you did that morning is in some ways a snapshot in time in terms of this document, because windows open, windows close. And each year we’ll be bringing you a budget, and it’s at that time priorities will get set in any given year.”
“I would submit to council that the minute we start to say one, two, three, four in a plan like this, it’s no longer a strategic plan, it’s more a snapshot for what works right now,” Rodgers said. “I would strongly encourage council to leave it as a strategic document. These are the things that are going to get us to where we want to be in 2030, and each council is going to have to weigh what’s important that year.”
Council approved the plan by a 7-0 vote.