CIP proposals may yield improvements

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Process to rank county projects is wrapping up

By Kirsten Laskey

Whether it’s the aging golf course, cracked tennis courts or other facilities, members of the community and county staff are well underway in the process for determining which capital improvement projects are most pressing.

Residents have participated in the Capital Improvement Projects process, weighing in during Wednesday’s CIP Evaluation and Oversight Committee meeting about everything from a new tennis complex to a pocket park at Ponderosa Estates, which are among projects under review for CIP phase one or study phase funding. The projects will be scored and ranked during a meeting from 5:30-9:30 p.m. in council chambers Nov. 18.

Leslie Esquibel, the applicant for the Ponderosa Estates Pocket Park, said it’s time for Ponderosa Estates to have a neighborhood park. Esquibel proposed a park that features swings, a picnic structure, a climbing apparatus and a multi-purpose court for basketball, bike riding and other activities. Park construction would run roughly $50,000, she said.

The park would be an asset to the neighborhood, Esquibel said, adding that the nearest park is in Loma Linda. This creates safety issues, she said, because children play in the street and that leads to near misses with passing cars.

Esquibel told the committee that when the neighborhood was built 15 years ago, the developer donated 35 acres of land to the county for open space usage. A portion was to be utilized for a park. Ten years ago, residents proposed construction of the park and the developer was willing to complete the project but the county declined citing liability issues, she said.

Esquibel has resurrected the effort and collected 80 signatures in support of the project, “so it’s very well supported in the neighborhood; everyone feels it is way past due.”

County Planner Gary Leikness is assisting Esquibel in the CIP process and Parks Division Manager Dick McIntyre agreed to be the project sponsor.

Taking part in the newly revised CIP process, which allows citizens to submit proposals for capital improvement projects, has been a positive experience, Esquibel said.

“I think it’s definitely a good process and it gets citizens’ input on what citizens want.”
Wednesday, Esquibel said the committee seemed fairly positive about her proposal, although some members were concerned about security and whether or not to build a park in a floodplain.

A tennis court complex is also under consideration by the committee. Despite the 12 tennis courts in Los Alamos County, not including courts at Los Alamos High School, the Los Alamos Tennis Club is advocating for something better to offer not only current members but also to attract new players.

The new complex would feature four indoor courts open 24 hours a day and six outdoor courts, with two courts designated for the U.S. Tennis Association’s Quick Start program that is geared toward children age 6 and older to introduce them to tennis.

Bob Nolen is one of the tennis complex applicants. He said the cost, including design, survey and ground preparation, is estimated at $3.9 million.

The U.S. Tennis Association helped design the proposed complex, he said, adding that the only thing up in the air is the location. The golf course is the preferred location because the two sports go well together, however he wants to remain flexible in where the courts are ultimately located.

“It doesn’t matter where it goes,” Nolen said.

The proposal to improve the Los Alamos Golf Course includes replacement of the 25-year-old irrigation system, extending the practice facility by about 300 yards, re-routing the second and third holes to improve safety, replacing the cart paths and renovating the course’s critical components such as the greens, tees, fairways and bunkers, said golf course manager Steve Wickliffe.

Annually, some 10,000-25,000 people visit the course, which was built in 1947, making it the second oldest in New Mexico, Wickliffe said.

“A golf course…gets worn out after a while. Improvements will go a long way to helping us make this course competitive to other golf courses built in recent years,” he said.

If approved, the study phase would prioritize the improvements and determine definitive costs for each project.

Since the golf course club house was previously approved for renovation through the CIP process, Wickliffe said it only makes sense to improve the course.

“So the complete package of assets… are brought up to today’s standards,” he said.