LAPS to buy Trinity complex

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Contingencies remain before sale closes

By John Severance

The Los Alamos Board of Education took a big step Friday in its quest to buy its own building.

Although there still are details to be worked out, the school board passed a resolution 3-1 to move ahead with purchasing the complex at 2075 and 2101 Trinity Drive and assuming the accompanying leases.

The lone dissenting vote came from school board president Melanie McKinley.

“I just don’t want to spend any money right now,” McKinley said after the meeting. “I respect my colleagues for making the decision they did. They want to get rid of the lease payments.”

School superintendent Gene Schmidt, meanwhile, was happy with the vote.

“I am very pleased,” Schmidt said. “The district needs a home. We can now start focusing on education and not where we will have our offices.”

Elmo C de Baca, the owner of the Shannon Property, has offered to sell the complex to the district for $2.4 million. In February 2010, the appraised value of the property, which includes 1.837 acres of land and all four buildings, was $3.6 million.

There are a couple of potential stumbling blocks en route to closing the sale.

The district board passed the resolution with two conditions.

Chief financial officer John Wolfe and attorney Art Jaramillo will meet with one of the tenants VISTA Corp., which has not signed off on the deal. Wolfe and Jaramillo will meet with VISTA on Monday afternoon.

“There was some non-appropriation language the Board of Finance put into the lease that is not applicable in most leases but it is standard in state contracts,” Wolfe said. “Also, there was some terminology in regard to the insurance. We are going to meet and the lawyers will talk and we can move forward with this.”

Board member David Foster also was insistent that the board obtain a report from qualified experts on the inspection of the property to be sure there were no material defects.

“Why shouldn’t district pay for a professional inspector and for documents we can look at,” Foster said. “I just feel uncomfortable if we don’t do this.”

Other board members agreed and the inspection was added as a contingency to the purchase as well.
Jaramillo said everything else situated with the transaction was ready to go.

C de Baca was unavailable and did not respond to messages left at his home and office Friday and Saturday. But in a December interview with the Los Alamos Monitor, C de Baca said, “I was selling it as a donation,” when asked why the price was discounted well below the appraised value.

In other business, the board:
• Transferred close to $3.5 million for various budget adjustments.  Most of the money was transferred to establish referendum budgets for land improvements, fixed assets and construction services.
• Approved the district’s involvement in the AdvanceEd Accreditation Process.
• Passed Amendment V, which involves work being done by FLINTCO West Inc., an Albuquerque construction company which is renovating the high school.