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Tourism group picks visitor center sites

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By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos County’s Tourism Task Force has developed a long list of possible locations to move the visitor’s center.
The group decided to make the relocation its first priority last month, in order to provide visitors with a more visible space.

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The task force came up with a list of 21 possible sites June 5, and will prioritize the list in the next few months, before the list is submitted to county council for approval.

Locations include: the Smith’s Marketplace parking lot, the Mari-Mac parking lot, the Shriner’s building on Trinity Avenue, a vacant parcel on 20th Street, a vacant property on Deacon Street, West Ashley Pond, The center’s present location at 109 Central Park Square, 1789 Central Ave., Main Gate Park, Hilltop, the “old Smith’s” at Mari-Mac Shopping Center, Fuller Lodge, the Los Alamos Post Office, 1010 Central Ave., 1350 Central Ave., the C.B. Fox Mattress Store, 104 Central Park Square, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Community Programs Office and 110 Eastgate Drive.
The task force came up with the unofficial list during a brainstorming session. Some task members were assigned a site, where they will come up with a list of desirable criteria for each one. Those with highest points of desirability will be considered for the visitor center’s new location.

Cost, parking, space, programming, visibility, aesthetics, bathrooms, ease of availability, proximity to trolley route, and what type of renovations would be needed to transfer the site into a suitable visitors center were some of the factors task force members will be considering.

The commission hopes to relocate the center, presently located at 109 Central Ave. inside the Central Park Square parking lot, somewhere else along Central Avenue or Trinity Drive, the hub of Los Alamos’ business district.

“If they park in the Deacon Street parking lot and walk over to Fuller Lodge, they have passed through most of our downtown business area, and that’s kind of what we want to happen,” David Metzger, owner of Metzger’s Hardware, said at the meeting.  

Acting Chairman Linda Matteson told the group that once the data is evaluated, the key will be is how it’s evaluated and translated into something they can use and present to the Los Alamos Council.

“…We need to define what we mean, and then we need to define how we score that,” Matteson said. “So, if someone has more than we want, then they should probably get a higher score. If location has more than we need, then maybe we should have a higher score than one who has less. Then, does that mean we completely throw them out because they have less, well then we have to look at that because if there’s minimum requirements, then maybe we will have, too.”

The Tourism Task Force is looking to present their findings to the Los Alamos County Council by mid August.

The Tourism Task Force’s next meeting is at noon on June 14, at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, 2600 Canyon Road.