Muni building petition falls short

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Richard Hannemann is confident in getting required signatures

By Kirsten Laskey

His petition may be short by nine signatures, but Los Alamos resident Richard Hanneman is undeterred in his mission to replicate the original municipal building. Hanneman told to the Monitor Tuesday morning he feels confident nine signatures can be collected within the 10-day grace period the county allows for petitioners.
During tonight’s county council meeting, Hanneman predicts that the County Clerk will report that the petition does not have the required 1,668 signatures needed and council will deem the petition insufficient. From that point, Hanneman said there would be a 10-day period where he will be allowed to collect the needed signatures.
When the petition is returned then. Gloria Maestas, election manager, said, the petition will be certified as either sufficient or insufficient and the rest is up to council to decide.
Hanneman explained the petition has collected 1,920 signatures, but 1,659 were accepted. The remaining 261 were rejected either because the signers were not registered to vote, moved to a different part of the county and did not change their voter registration address or did not fill out their voter form properly.
These, he said, are easy fixes.
Hanneman said the petition has received broad support. Of the people who were asked to sign the petition, 75 percent did sign, 13 percent had no opinion or undecided and 12 percent said they would not sign.
What the petition seeks is to build an exact replica of the original municipal building at the original location near Ashley Pond. Current plans feature a 60,000 square foot building off Central Avenue, where the Los Alamos Apartments were located.   
Despite working to rebuild what was demolished 2008 because the structure was determined to be unsound, Hanneman said the petition includes a statement to have better construction. He said the petition calls for a full rather than a half basement, which would provide a sturdier foundation.  
There are several reasons the original building should be restored, Hanneman said.
“One is it’s going to be the least costly option. The council is considering a 60,000 square foot building where the apartments were … it would also tie up land for anything useful. As a practical matter, putting it back where it was is the best option,” he said.
“Then there is a matter of symbolism of a municipal building or town hall. In any town or any city there is a seat of government that is considered to be a symbol of the town or city. The municipal building was originally planned in 1958 to be the first county hall of an independent Los Alamos County.”
Hanneman said during the dedication ceremony for the former municipal building, the Atomic Energy Commission passed ownership of the town to the citizens.
As a result, the building stood for 40 years as a symbol of Los Alamos as an independent entity.
Hanneman said Los Alamos should also look to the future and determine what to leave for future generations.
Councilor Ralph Phelps said he is interested to see what happens with the issue. “I can’t believe he’s that close,” he said. “It’s exciting and we’ll see what happens.”