A big piece of the past is gone

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By Richard Hannemann

Dear Editor,

In 1949 a group of very courageous people, believing in the future and a future that they hoped would long outlive them, built a town in probably the worst possible location for any town. It took them 20 years to do it, but they left a legacy and a heritage to be cherished and added upon. Now, we celebrate 60 years of Los Alamos and I find it strange indeed that we do so not by adding to the legacy but by policies and devices that would destroy it and remake it to be something wholly different and unrecognizable from what was created.

The symbol of that legacy, the Municipal Building, which heralded political independence and right of self-determination, both of which require an optimistic belief in a real future, is gone. And in its place, rising from the ground nearby is the Judicial/Police/Jail, a symbol of both safety and security and pessimism and fear. The contradiction here is exquisite to the extreme, for the site is the original location of TA-1, the birthplace of the nuclear age, which can either be perceived as hope for the future of all in a new form of energy or fear of the destruction of all by annihilation. A single parcel of land stands for hope and liberty or fear and security. The choice is ours.

So another hallmark of our public heritage is slated for replacement and there exists a Master Plan, concieved in a time of troubled doubt, which envisions the complete transformation of our downtown for the sake of the dubious comfort derived from transitory possessions and a few lousy bucks. Happily, that particular plan cannot be wholly realized. Yet the design to implement some part of it diminishes our early downtown and the legacy, which was to be our heritage.

One has to wonder.

Los Alamos