County council OKs leadership plan

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos County Council approved its Strategic Leadership Plan Tuesday, a plan that includes seven prioritized areas for the next year.

Those areas include: increasing the amount and types of housing options; enhancing support and opportunities for local businesses; addressing long-term building vacancies in key areas of the community; protecting and maintaining open places, recreational and cultural amenities; supporting improving public health; investing in infrastructure and planning for appropriate levels of county services.

County leadership said that their ratification of the areas it wants to concentrate on this year is just the start of an ongoing collaboration with the public.

“As we move forward with that engagement, we will be looking for ideas. There’s a lot of good smart caring people in this community and we want to make sure we get all great ideas we can to really make progress on some of these,” Council Chair Sara Scott said after the ratification of the plan.

Vice Chair Pete Sheehey said when the plan gets posted up on the Los Alamos County website, this is the public’s chance to give its input and to tell council how it should fulfill these priorities.

“This is the start of a process with these priorities we’ve identified to go out to the community,” Council Vice Chair Pete Sheehey said. “We’re looking for suggestions on how to execute them.”

The council spent much of the meeting fine tuning it’s strategic leadership plan before ratifying it, especially on the health, business and infrastructure aspects of it.

With business, council changed language to make a distinction between “retaining” the businesses that are already here and what it would take to attract new business.

Scott said during her campaign for a council seat, business owners talked to her about sign visibility and streamlining renovation processes, services and changes geared toward supporting existing businesses.

Councilor Antonio Maggiore used the moment to bring up the county’s decision to go with an outside vendor instead of Gordon’s Summer Concerts, a vendor the county used for 30 years.

“Is that a business we should be working to retain, or is that a business that we should be saying through the request for proposal process is no longer viable. I want to be clear on what we mean by that,” he said.

Scott said supporting local business, keeping the local business community healthy “within what’s appropriate for the county to do so that they can thrive” should be a goal.

“There’s things that are inappropriate for the county to do… we wouldn’t want to do those, but it does go back to having a healthy business environment,” Scott said. “If there’s things like signage, grants things that are like that that are appropriate that would help businesses stay in business, we should be doing those things.”

Another item they cleaned up was public health and how they would encourage a more healthy population.

Councilor Randall Ryti said the council needs to keep track of the recent milestones the county and the council made toward encouraging mental health awareness and acceptance.

Scott agreed, saying they should revisit a 2018 report the county published on the state of health in Los Alamos.

The council’s next step is to post the plan on the county’s website so residents can add their input, engage the local media and have  a series of town hall type discussions within the year.

“The idea behind adopting this plan would not be to put an end to the discussion of these priorities, but to start an ongoing and robust engagement that results in making real progress,” Scott said during the meeting.