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Parks and Recreation Board Update for May 2024

We are approaching the finish line of the May 11, 2024 Jemez Mountain Trail Runs, an event that would not be possible without community volunteers and collaboration with Los Alamos County, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Santa Fe National Forest. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Board

At the May Parks and Recreation Board (PRB) meeting, we were introduced to new employees, arborist Cindy and irrigation technician Bobby. Both have impressive resumes and are poised to be valuable assets to our community, which faces unique challenges in forest and irrigation management. Welcome to the community! (Side note: Cindy is an avid mountain biker and snowboarder, so you might see her in action at Summerfest this weekend.)

Next we got an update on the White Rock skate park. In April, professional skaters and ramp designers from American Ramp Company, Julia and Cody, visited White Rock skate park for a meet and greet, during which community members provided feedback on potential skate park designs. This feedback has been incorporated into their designs, resulting in wider ramps, more “smooth” lines, and a thoughtfully designed beginner area to help avoid collisions with users. As a skater I am very excited about the progress of this project.

We also received an update on the permanent ice rink cooling machine from County engineer Miguel. His presentation was insightful and explained the complex system of electrical, plumbing and foundation components required to supercool the slab and reduce thermal expansion problems. Our rink faces unique challenges such as being the southernmost outdoor facility, high altitude and loss of shade from trees. The infrastructure shows signs of aging, such as pipe leaks and cracks in the concrete. There are plans to install a new cooling machine in 2025 and replace the foundation and plumbing in 2026. Once the foundation has been replaced, a roof structure will be integrated to provide shade, allowing our cooling machine to work more efficiently and extending the ice rink season. This also benefits summer events such as roller derby, skate nights and trail runners seeking shelter during hailstorms.

We then received an update from CSD Director Cory on projects planned through 2033. It is reassuring that our community can plan for the long term to ensure adequate resources are available and costs can be managed efficiently . COVID-19 highlighted the importance of limiting volatility through long-term planning. Community members raised concerns about open space in North Mesa Park and budget planning for trail maintenance, which have been partially addressed but warrant further discussion at a future PRB meeting to address any lingering concerns.

The next 30 minutes of our meeting were spent discussing the transition from subcommittees to working groups and task forces. The primary reason for this change is to address the increased accountability and resources the county needs to comply with the Open Meetings Act for Subcommittees. This discussion revealed vague and confusing language in the County Code and NM Statute.

During the next hour of public comment, many community members shared their experiences interacting with the county. It became clear that the Code surrounding subcommittees is just as challenging to interpret for the public as it is for the Board. From the public’s perspective, this sudden change seemed to limit the community’s ability to participate in governance, due to the confusion about how a working group differs from a subcommittee. This underscores a recurring challenge within the Community Services Department and Los Alamos County at large: the need to improve communication and build trust with citizens. I hope we can continue to discuss the guiding documents of the Parks & Recreation Board and its subgroups, and ensure that all parties are on the same page and that the public’s concerns are balanced with those of the bureaucracy.

After nearly three hours of discussion, the PRB decided to “move from subcommittees to working groups, maintaining existing board contacts, and to recommend that the Council change the definition of working groups to allow for an unlimited amount of time and tasks .” We hope this will eliminate the province’s liability concerns while empowering citizens and making the decision-making process as transparent as possible.

Our next meeting on June 13 will have a relatively light agenda. In addition to our regular project updates, we will have an update on CAPRA accreditation and preliminary results from the Trails & Open Space Listening Sessions on May 21 and June 5. (Zoom link Meeting ID: 861 9358 9569, access code: 364624). I encourage you to email [email protected] with any questions, concerns, or requests that fall within the duties and responsibilities of the Parks & Recreation Board so that they can be addressed at a future PRB meeting discussed.

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