Protect Our Open Spaces

Letter To The Editor_Pongratz Endorses Chris Chandler For House District 43 Seat (15)

Dear Editor and Council Members,

I am writing to voice my concerns regarding the proposed land transfer and development adjacent to the community of White Rock. My children are 4th generation White Rock residents. My grandparents moved here shortly after the war, I was raised here, and my husband and I decided to start our family here in White Rock after receiving our graduate degrees. He had many options with a degree in physics, and I as a Physician Assistant also had many choices, but having grown up here, I recognized that Los Alamos County, and White Rock in particular, was unique in the world. The clean air, safe community, and abundance of open space for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and the surrounding wildlife drew us back to the community where I grew up. We started out living in a quad, and after many years purchased a home in Pajarito Acres overlooking Potrillo Canyon. We have watched the growing pains of Los Alamos, the ever increasing traffic issues, and the development of the Mirador housing development in White Rock. We recognize the need for more housing, affordable housing, small business development, and a need to support the workforce for these businesses. We recognize these issues as we try to commute to White Rock at “rush hour”, on the 2 lane highway that is State Road 4, with traffic clogged and bottlenecked. We remember the long lines and frightening wait to evacuate White Rock during the Cerro Grande fire. We watch the construction of the Mirador housing development, and continue to see the rows of housing going up as the dust from the construction floats over White Rock and the blasting of the mesa rock continues to complicate and slow the expensive construction.

Our 3 kids, ages 7, 11, and 14, hike and play in the canyon and on the trails in the proposed development area almost daily. With the quarantine, we have been blessed to have access  to the open space for exercise and fresh air. We see hikers, bikers, and dog walkers, as well as horseback riders, all utilizing the extensive trail system. We have hiked down the mesa to find the remains of Native American ruins, with pottery shards, arrow heads, and cave dwellings abundant in the area. We have walked out at night to see the expansive night sky, largely untouched by light pollution. We have seen extensive wildlife in the area, with deer and herds of elk, songbirds, hawks, and coyotes being such a common sighting that sometimes we forget what an amazing place we live in here in White Rock.

The proposal of developing this land for retail and housing has quickly brought the uniqueness of this land back into focus. We as a community, along with LANL and Bandelier, are stewards of this area. This land is not replaceable. While we recognize that affordable housing and better infrastructure is needed as the LANL workforce grows, that growth must be tempered with caution and protection of the resources that draw families here to begin with.  We must avoid making a short-sighted decision that will forever impact and alter what brought my husband and I back to White Rock all those years ago.

Patricia McCulloch
White Rock