Council OKs golf course restaurant proposal

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By Arin McKenna


On Friday, the Los Alamos County Council voted 6-0 to approve a proposal from the Pajarito Golf Group LLC to operate a restaurant in the golf course community building. Councilor Rick Reiss was unable to attend Friday’s meeting. 

PGG is comprised of Patrick Mockler-Wood, Catherine Mockler and Dorota and Pawel Listwan, co-owners of the Pajarito Brew Pub and Grill. Menus completely distinct from those at brewpub are planned for the new venue. 

The county can now proceed with some modest modifications to the venue that PGG has requested and the procurement process for outfitting the restaurant. Staff estimates it will be November before the restaurant is outfitted and ready for occupancy. 

Councilor Pete Sheehey expressed some concern that PGG would provide space management services for the meeting/event room. PGG will retain 60 percent of service fees for the meeting room. 

“I want it clearly understood by all that that community room is primarily space belonging to the community for public uses. It is not primarily a space for profit making activities,” Sheehey said.

County Administrator Harry Burgess assured Sheehey that use of the room would be dictated by county policies, which are currently being developed in consultation with PGG.

“This is a beautiful and needed addition of community space in this part of town,” Councilor Steve Girrens said. “So I’m pleased that we’re worried about how we’re going to use the space. I’m pleased that we even have it to have those discussions.”

Council unanimously approved a new liquor license for The Wine Room, a tasting room to be located at Central Park Square. 

The business is a joint venture of three New Mexico wineries: Anasazi Fields Winery, Black’s Smuggler Winery and Vivác Winery.

Council also approved the transfer of Smith’s liquor license from its current location to the Smith’s Marketplace in preparation for its July 16 opening. 

Council approved an ordinance to restate and reauthorize leases with the Los Alamos Retirement Community. 

LARC has the opportunity to refinance its debt through HUD and reduce the interest rate on its remaining payments. HUD requires a 50-year lease. 

The new agreement extends the term of prior leases and makes provisions for inflationary increases to the rent after 2036. 

Council also appointed Paul Frederickson (D) to the Board of Public Utilities for a five-year term. Frederickson replaces Chris Ortega, whose term ends June 30. Frederickson received five votes in the first round of voting.

Eight candidates applied for three vacant seats. Steve Tenbrink is leaving with 4 years left on his term and Kevin Anderson’s departure leaves three years on his term. Council’s attempts to fill the remaining seats failed. 

Stephen McLin (declined to state party) and Ed Van Eeckhout (DTS) each received three votes in two rounds of voting. Candidates had to receive four votes to be appointed. Andrew Fraser (D), Jeff Johnson (I), Mike Moore (DTS), Justin Tripp (DTS) and Robert Wells (DTS) were the other candidates.

An interview committee recommended Frederickson, Johnson, Tripp and Van Eeckhout to fill the seats.

After the second vote, Chair Geoff Rodgers tabled the item until all seven councilors could be present. Frederickson’s appointment gives the board a quorum so it can continue to function until the two remaining members are appointed. 

During public comment, PAC 8 board of directors President Dave Schiferl thanked Burgess for his efforts to find ways for PAC 8 and the county “to work together for mutual benefit.” Schiferl had addressed council on June 10 to appeal the county’s decision to reduce PAC 8’s services to the county and a corresponding reduction in funding. 

“We resolved the immediate financial issues, the immediate security issues and the immediate procedural issues involved with the change over to having the county personnel do the audiovisual equipment for county meetings,” Schiferl said. 

“We also agreed to meet next month to explore other ways that PAC 8 and the county government can work together during fiscal year 2015 in ways that will make business sense for both of us.”

Shelby Redondo and Jane Young both urged council to resurrect the leisure pool project as a venue for teaching young children to swim and learn water safety. The leisure pool was the only capital improvement project put to a public vote as a bond issue, which failed. 

Redondo cited statistics from an American Red Cross survey, which found that 54 percent of Americans could not swim or were unable to perform basic water competency skills. 

Redondo also noted that drowning is the second leading cause of death in children and the fifth leading cause of death for people of all ages.

“Currently, the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center is unsuitable for children to learn to swim,” Redondo said. “It is too deep and too cold. Those who get the most benefit from the existing pool are serious lap swimmers and high school and club teams.”

Redondo detailed proposed design elements for leisure pool that would benefit young children, casual swimmers and senior citizens. 

“This concept is not a frivolous wish list,” Redondo said.

 “It is a project well thought out and one that should be a central part of our children’s safety and health.”