Steve Doorn, far left, Michael Di Rosa and Jodie Benson chat following public comment at the Los Alamos County Council meeting Tuesday evening. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Two Los Alamos County residents, Michael Di Rosa and Steve Doorn, addressed Los Alamos County Council members Tuesday evening during the public comment part of the agenda to express their concern that Los Alamos National Laboratory officials are not communicating with County residents about their plans for $5 billion in construction and infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
Di Rosa said he was sure the Council was aware that the Laboratory has in the coming years significant plans for construction and hiring.
“We don’t know the details of these plans but we know them in broad strokes thanks to a subcontractors forum that was held in early August and a subsequent report in the Albuquerque Journal,” he said. “There will be more than $5 billion spent in five years, $13 billion in 10 years, within Laboratory property for new facilities, replacing aging infrastructure, things like that and by 2026, the Laboratory plans to have 1,200 more employees.”
Di Rosa said that’s not all that came out of the subcontractors forum. He said to assist with what the Laboratory calls its vision, they are recommending some infrastructure improvements on state, county, perhaps even federal lands. He said those improvements include things like a bridge over the Rio Grande in White Rock and perhaps over the Caja del Rio connecting with 1-25 south of Santa Fe. He said the Lab also had sketching of where more housing might be placed in Los Alamos.
“You have to imagine these are quite accomplished senior executives at the Laboratory issuing these. These are quite deliberate plans done in conversations or consultations with federal, state and even county officials. These things take place on land that even past councils have promised to protect. All these conversations at least to date – the one body that they have yet to approach is the very public affected by this. Us,” he said. “With that, this evening I have an earnest request for you to invite the senior team from (the Laboratory) to explain to us – whether it’s here, in Fuller Lodge or Duane Smith Auditorium – exactly what designs they would have for County land.”
Doorn said he fully supported what Di Rosa said in terms of urging the Council to work with the Lab to have them work more closely with the community to learn in more detail what the plans are.
“With what I do know about them, I find very concerning the potential for significant negative effects on the local area. There is significant potential for this infrastructure vision to fundamentally alter the character of our community and not necessarily in a good way and I find it especially concerning that the Lab in developing this vision and pushing this vision forward has yet to reach out to the two communities that are most directly affected by these changes – White Rock and Los Alamos. I urge Council to whatever you can to help the Lab change its approach.”
As is normal procedure, Council members did not respond to Doorn’s and Di Rosa’s comments. Following the Council meeting Chair Sara Scott said she plans to ask Lab officials to meet with Council and staff in a public setting to discuss the Lab’s plans.