Outgoing Council Chair Sara Scott Issues State Of The County Annual Report For 2020

Los Alamos County Council Chair

Editor’s note: Outgoing Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott has released her State of the County Annual Report for 2020 which is published in its entirety below.

In January 2020, the Los Alamos County Council identified seven strategic priorities; these were  subsequently adopted on February 4, 2020 as outlined in the County’s 2020 Strategic  Leadership Plan. These priorities address issues important to the community that the Council  agrees to focus and make progress on in the coming year; they represent multiyear challenges  that require cross-cutting engagement and support. Additionally, progress in these areas will help enable the broader set of County investments, initiatives, and day-to-day operations currently underway.  

For each of these priorities, concrete actions were identified and implemented. This report  provides high-level (not comprehensive) examples of progress in these areas and a starting  point for identification of needed focus areas for the coming year, pending broader discussion  between the community, County staff, and Council. 

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community and the state have been and will  continue to be significant, as they are nationally and globally. Highlights of the County’s  response are also provided in the following section of this report; updates regarding the  strategic priorities follow. 

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on  the community can be considered in four areas: County operations, engagement and  coordination, identification of new needs, and communication. 

County Operations. Agile and continual modification of County operations, facilities, and  programs have been required since March. Immediately, the County Manager and the  Department of Public Utilities manager took action to assure effective continuity of  essential services in the context of a stay at home public health order. The Emergency  Manager developed a Pandemic Response addendum to the County’s Emergency  Response Plan which was approved by Council. Subsequently a vaccine and treatment  Point of Distribution Plan was added to the plan. Vaccination of health care workers and  fire fighters (because of their Emergency Medical Technician role) began in December  through the Los Alamos Medical Center and the Public Health Office. 

A COVID-19 button was added to the County website to provide links to critical state and  national information and to collect and make available local information and public  communication and announcements. To enable future requests for state or federal relief funds, an emergency declaration was signed. The proactive efforts of County staff and  community partners in developing a proposal for the County to receive Coronavirus Aid,  Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds being disbursed to counties and  municipalities around New Mexico by the State, resulted in the award of more than  $1,700,000 to be used for grants to our local businesses and individuals in need. A  proposal and disbursement process was quickly set up and resulted in initial  disbursement of funds within 4 weeks of applications being received. 

Engagement and Coordination. While this report focuses on County efforts, it is  important to note that there has been outstanding community self-organization and  coordination in response to the pandemic. Making and provision of masks, support for  the homebound, donations to those in need, and an outpouring of support for our local  businesses resulted. The County staff and Council continue to be in regular and direct  communication at multiple levels with the Los Alamos Medical Center, Los Alamos  National Laboratory, state legislative representatives, and the state emergency  management framework. The County also was invited to represent the community’s  interest and provide input and feedback to the Governor’s office regarding pandemic  management and reopening planning through participation on the Mayor’s Council (a  subset of Mayors from around the state). 

Identification of New Needs. During the budget hearings 1.5M$ was allocated for COVID 19 support and recovery; some funds were spent to allow for outside and distanced  learning sessions by purchasing shade structures for each of the Los Alamos Public  School buildings as well as remote learning software systems. As the pandemic evolves,  it is anticipated that other needs and opportunities for the use of these funds will be  identified.  

A Council COVID subcommittee was formed to work across multiple areas including  support for making Personal Protective Equipment available for those in need, finding  ways to support local businesses, identifying emerging social service needs, and looking  at new ways to get the word out to the community about key public health measures  and available assistance and support. The committee promoted facilitating options for  outside seating at restaurants, implementing mechanisms to make it easier to donate to  the Utilities Assistance Program, and an approach that allowed Aspen Ridge residents an  opportunity for reserved La Mesa trail use while still isolating from others.  

The Emergency Manager worked with the New Mexico Department of Health to hold  pop-up COVID-19 testing at Overlook Park in April; this was the first COVID-19 testing in  Los Alamos County. A subsequent event was held in December at Fuller Lodge. The Public  Health Office, reopened as a result of County and State investments in 2019, continues to  provide a critical service to the community by giving tests to any resident that wants one. 

Communication. The importance of identifying new ways of getting the word out  regarding critical public health practices, infection and testing data for the County,  available services and support, and where to volunteer was recognized. The County’s  Public Information Officer led an effort to identify and implement new communication  tools including bright pink yard signs and flyers to every home in Los Alamos and White  Rock. The County website was configured to that a COVID-19 alert popped up  automatically on the home page with a link to key national, state and local information  regarding the pandemic. 

More than a hundred updates have been provided to the community through formal  press releases, Councilor letters to the community, discussions and comments at Council  meetings, and presentations to local community organizations. A new approach to public  service announcements will be rolled out in January 2021. This effort will engage a cross  section of community members to help get the word out regarding the importance of a  continued and strong focus on COVID-Safe practices even as vaccination efforts  commence. Impacts of continuing to stay at home, frequent handwashing, mask  wearing, and avoiding gatherings on expediting better community health, reopening of  schools, additional activities, and increased options for business operations will be  included as important elements of the messaging.  

Increasing the amount and types of housing options. This includes a variety of housing  options for all segments of the community, from affordable, entry level, and live-work  housing to new options for those interested in downsizing or moving closer to central  areas of the community.  

Information provided by the first independent Housing Market Needs Analysis for the  County (completed December 2019) estimated the immediate need for 1,310 units of  rental housing and 379 units for homeownership including a particularly acute shortage  of housing for middle- and lower-income households. This immediate need identified in  the Market Needs Analysis is in addition to approximately 600 units currently under  development; these includes affordable housing, market rate apartments, townhomes  and unattached homes.  

While there have been some impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, progress on  most projects continues at the anticipated pace. Highlights include: 

o Mirador Subdivision in White Rock. An additional 32 permits were issued for  homes (of a total of 161 anticipated) in 2020, on top of the 21 already  constructed and occupied previously. Additionally, our Planning and Zoning  Commission has approved the site plan for an adjacent mixed-use development  (57 apartments and 1100 square feet of commercial use space). An application  for a permit to construct this project is anticipated in the first quarter of 2021. 

o The Flats at Oppenheimer and Trinity. Completed in 2020, 16 units. o The Bluffs and Canyon Walk on DP Road. Both are affordable housing  developments; the Canyon Walk apartments (70 units) are under construction  and the site is being cleared for The Bluffs, a senior housing rental development  of 54 units. Expected completion date for the Canyon Walk apartments is April  2021. Construction documents have been submitted for the Bluffs project, with  an expected completion date of early 2022. 

o Arkansas Place. Located at the old Black Hole property, construction of the  infrastructure and utilities for 44 new market rate townhomes is in progress.

o The Hill Apartments. On 35th Street (at the old Los Alamos Site Office site) east of  the hospital 149 market rate apartments, construction slated to begin in spring 2021.

o 3500 and 2201 Trinity. Properties have been purchased; redevelopment for  mixed-used is being discussed for both sites.  

o Ponderosa Estates Subdivision. This project is for 49 single family homes; the site  plan for this project was approved in November of 2020. 

o Former Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Service Site. This Canyon Road property (east  of the Los Alamos Jewish Center) has been purchased and a site plan and building  design is in development for approximately 140 units. Site plan is expected in  early 2021. 

o Mesa Townhomes Senior Housing. Twelve units for-sale to those 55 and older will  be built on the empty lot next to Aspen Ridge; a development agreement planned  for County Council for consideration early 2021. 

o Infill – approximately 12 houses/apartments throughout the County. The number  of available vacant, privately-owned parcels continues to diminish due to overall  demand for housing. 

The Market Needs Analysis is being used to inform additional possible housing  development in the County. 

o The Los Alamos Public Schools and the County continued public engagement to  highlight important elements of a desirable workforce housing development that  would also provide a revenue stream for the Public Schools on their North Mesa  property. This culminated in the Schools and the County signing a Memorandum  of Agreement authorizing the County to spend up to $475,000 from a State  capital improvement grant to produce, while integrating public input, a detailed  conceptual site plan and financial feasibility analysis for achieving both of these  goals. 

o The Hilltop House property was purchased by a private party; demolition and re use for a residential redevelopment is planned. 

o The Mari Mac Village Shopping Center property is under contract to a private  party; currently in the due diligence stage of the process, the developer has  stated an interest in a mixed-use development that incorporates both residential and business use). 

Enhancing support and opportunities for the local business environment. This includes  appropriate support for existing businesses, growing new businesses, and supporting  technology start-ups and spin-offs. 

As a result of the County staff and community partners’ proactive and effective efforts,  the Los Alamos proposal for federal CARES Act funds made available by the State to counties and municipalities around New Mexico, resulted in receipt of more than  $1,700,000 in grants to our local businesses ($1,551,000) and individuals ($169,000) in  need. The process, including the call for and review of applications was set up quickly  and initial disbursements were made within four weeks of a funding allocation in  October.

To make property transferred from National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to  the County available for businesses (approximately 10 new lots on DP road) and to  address needed infrastructure upgrades for existing businesses, funding for a complete  update of roadway and utilities (electric, gas, water, and sewer) was approved as a part  of the FY2021 budget process. Planning and engineering design work will be initiated in  2021 with construction planned for 2022. The utilities and roadway improvements for  this phase of the DP Road project will begin at the fire tower and continue all the way to the end of the public right of way at the entrance to TA-21. In parallel, the County is  working with the Department of Energy (DOE)/NNSA to maintain their focus on  completing assessments and any needed cleanup of middle DP road parcels in a safe and  timely manner.  

Additionally, an ordinance was introduced to sell two lots on Trinity Drive to a local  business, Pet Pangea. A purchase agreement for the CB Fox and Reel Deal properties was  approved (with a 90-day due diligence period) to evaluate how and at what cost these  properties could help support existing and/or grow more restaurants, amenities,  businesses and housing options as a part of downtown redevelopment. Businesses have  stated that being able to purchase rather than rent property would increase their  sustainability, but the County has very little land available – and none currently available  for purchase by our smaller businesses (or perhaps even new businesses) in our  downtown areas.  

A Downtown Master Planning effort for both White Rock and Los Alamos was initiated in  June with broad community outreach and engagement; there has been significant  commercial development interest so there is an expectation that commercial and  housing development will be taking place in our downtown areas. The Downtown Master  Plan will take advantage of an opportunity to make sure these areas are developed in a  smart and responsible way that makes the County an even more attractive place to live  and work. It will focus on our community’s needs including considering new options for  mobility, transportation, and parking in the context of a County-wide initiative to develop  an updated and integrated trail and transportation strategy. 

An update and reconfiguration of the County development code which governs  commercial, residential and mixed-use development and redevelopment will be one  result of the Downtown Master Planning process. The code update will help the  community achieve its downtown goals and be easier to use and understand. A potential  update to the county’s outdoor lighting ordinance to incorporate guidance provided  under a Dark Skies initiative is anticipated as part of these efforts. Discussions are also  underway regarding the County’s code pertaining to short term rentals and whether  changes will be needed to remain compliant with State Code for these types of  properties.  

Building permitting staff has continued to simplify permit requirements and to improve  the overall development and building code processes to make them easier to use. Since 2016, the County has implemented 58 new processes and policies to streamline these  procedures. For example, staff will now accept certain types of reinspections to be done  remotely over video chat in order to expedite the inspection process and to allow for less  physical contact on the worksite. A mechanism for rapid permitting of outdoor space use  (e.g. to enable outdoor dining) was implemented in March to support businesses during  the pandemic. Due to a positive response to these efforts, the County anticipates broader interest in outdoor dining opportunities in the future and will make permanent changes  to the code as needed.  

Permit issuance for both commercial and residential activities continued at a robust pace  in 2020; even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on operations, staff continued provision of service at normal levels, remotely as available and using the on line permitting systems. Through November 2020, 939 building permits were issued, with  528 of these permits submitted using the Citizen Self-Service portal; for approximately  99% of residential permits the turnaround was three days, for commercial permits five days. Additionally, the Community Development Department renewed its accreditation  with the International Code Council, following an audit and independent review of  internal processes and procedures; the department remains the first and only accredited  building permit organization in the state of New Mexico. 

In addition to reviewing and issuing permits, staff (utilizing COVID safe practices),  maintained normal building inspection service levels during a strong building year in the  County. Implementation of virtual meetings with the Planning and Zoning Commission  to enable consideration of new development applications, helped promote continued  progress, for example: 

o Natural Grocers. Opened for business in November. 

o Charley’s Landscaping. Opened this summer. 

o Anytime Fitness. Opened in January. 

o Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Planning and Zoning Commission hearing  scheduled for January 13, 2021.  

o Los Alamos Public Schools Credit Union. Site plan approved by the Planning and  Zoning Commission, permit issued, and building now under construction with a  planned opening date of May 2021. 

o Flex Laboratory at the Research Park. The site plan for this Los Alamos Commerce  and Development Corporation project that includes approximately 83,000 square  feet of office and laboratory space was approved; building permit application in  preparation but this project is currently on hold. 

o Demolition of portions of the Longview property in White Rock. Completed in  2019; will facilitate identification of redevelopment opportunities.  

Addressing long-term building vacancies in key areas of our community. Land  availability in Los Alamos County, and in particular in the downtown areas, is limited and  there is a desire to work towards better utilization, opportunities for new businesses,  and improved aesthetics. 

As noted in the housing section, construction of market rate townhomes at the former Black Hole property is in progress. Additionally, the Hilltop House property was  purchased by a private party and re-use for a residential redevelopment is planned and  the Mari Mac Village Shopping Center property is under contract to a private party with a stated an interest in a mixed-use development that incorporates both residential and  business use.  

County staff researched the potential for a vacancy tax or vacancy fee and determined  that such a tax or fee was neither a viable nor practical option in New Mexico given the  limitations placed on our local taxing authority as well as the practicalities and costs  associated with actually imposing, enforcing, and collecting such a tax or fee. Other  potential mechanisms for addressing this issue will continue to be explored and  considered. 

Protecting and maintaining our open spaces, recreational, and cultural amenities. Los  Alamos County open spaces and cultural attractions are greatly valued by the  community and provide opportunities for recreational and economic growth;  appropriately allocating resources to ensure their health and sustainability is important  to our citizens. 

Budget for a new park maintenance crew to focus on White Rock amenities was  approved and hired. A dedicated trails management specialist was hired to enhance maintenance of over 100 miles of Los Alamos County trails and operating equipment to  support these efforts budgeted and purchased (including a Bobcat E50 compact trail  excavator which was used for most of the projects listed below). Results include: 

o Woodland Trail Improvement. Nine loads of dirt were hauled into the Woodland  Trail to bring the trail tread back to a sustainable grade. Water bars were  installed to help divert water and prevent further erosion. The area was  reclaimed, and native speed was spread in the disturbed area. 

o Erosion Control. Seven water bars were installed in Walnut Canyon and Deer Trap  Mesa to help control erosion and prevent the trail from deteriorating from urban  runoff. 

o Bridge Rebuild Project. Six bridges spanning from 16’ to 10’ were rebuilt to  provide trail users a safe and enjoyable experience.  

o Siberian Elm Tree removal. Over 200 Siberian Elm trees were removed from the  Homestead Crossing, Woodland, Dot Grant and Canyon Rim trails to improve the  health of the forest and to stop the spread of these highly invasive trees.  

o Quemazon Trailhead Improvements. The improvements consisted of installing five water bars above the trailhead to help with erosion problems, removal of  tree stumps, leveling of the parking area and applying processed road material to  the parking area. This allowed us to add four more parking spaces to the  trailhead. 

o Pine Street Trailhead-Trash removal. Removed five truckloads of illegally dumped  trash and yard material. The E50 was used to expedite the cleanup. 

o Deer Trap Mesa Trailhead Clean Up. Removed illegally dumped gravel and  removed broken sidewalk from the trailhead area. Improved drainage to prevent  erosion along the Deer Trap Mesa trail.  

o Canyon Rim Trail and LA Mesa Trail Bi-Weekly Maintenance. Open Space staff  uses the ATV and a pull behind blower to keep the paved trails clear of debris. A  new ATV has been utilized this winter to plow the paved trails and trailheads. Staff has purchased implements for the ATV that allows for additional use this  winter to plow snow on the paved trails and trailheads. 

o Trail Maintenance and Tree Removal. A quarter mile of trail maintenance was  performed on Pueblo Canyon Rim and Water bar trail, edge work and tread. Over  two dozen fallen trees have been removed from the trail system. 

Projects to improve or construct multiple recreational amenities continued even with the  challenges of the pandemic. These include golf course improvements, ice rink addition  and renovation, and updated community wayfinding signage. Specific highlights include:  

o Ice Rink Improvements. Substantive improvements and expansion of the locker  room/restroom facilities completed November 2020. 

o Pinon Park Splash Pad. Substantially completed October 2020 with a fun, multi colored design safety coating on the concrete surface to be installed before  Spring 2021, weather permitting. 

o Golf Course Irrigation Replacement. Substantially complete November 30, 2020. o Golf Course Site Development Improvements and Amenities. The contract for the  design effort is signed and work has started. Improvements include safety netting  for the driving range and Hole 2, rehabilitation of greens, sand bunker  rehabilitation and drainage, tee-box rehabilitation and orientation, renovation of  the Hole 13 restroom, and four weather shelters. Work is scheduled to be  completed by Spring of 2021.  

o Multigenerational/Kiddie Pool Addition. This is a new building addition to the  Larry Walkup Aquatic Center including a zero-entry pool, lazy river, spray  features, and a slide. The construction contract award was approved by Council in  December 2020 and construction will be initiated by February 2021 and will continue through the end of 2021/early 2022. 

o BMX Track. Initial preparatory work has been accomplished with staging of dirt  for the track. The Procurement method and process is being finalized with goals  for this to be out for proposals in the first quarter of calendar year 2021. 

Progress on the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Dormitory on 17th Street (purchased by the  County both to preserve this historic World War II building and help create new  opportunities for insights into the Manhattan Project) includes work to clear overgrowth  on the exterior of the building. Future landscaping will be discussed as part of the  renovations of the WAC building A request for proposals will be issued in early 2021 to  investigate application for historic status for the building and perform outreach to public and stakeholders. Community outreach and engagement will help the County determine  how best to restore and utilize this building, for example, as a part of a Los Alamos  historic walking tour. 

The County initiated development of an updated and integrated trail and transportation  strategy. This will include working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and their trails  planning efforts as well as identifying key links with regional transportation to/from  surrounding communities. Ongoing communications slowed in 2020 but are anticipated  to pick up again post-pandemic in 2021 to coordinate these trail design initiatives  started. Additionally, conversations and studies have been initiated between Los Alamos  National Laboratory, New Mexico Department of Transportation, and North Central  Regional Transit District about enhancing and expanding regional transit service. 

NNSA provided approval for use of Los Alamos Canyon for special outdoor events. This  agreement was in response to the County’s request for a Special Use permit to provide  access for recreational (hiking and biking) and tourism purposes (e.g. historic sites in  support of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park). This type of permit is  consistent with NNSA’s goal of improving the quality of life for its employees while also  assisting the community with economic development opportunities. As ongoing  remediation efforts are completed in the canyon, broader regular access will be pursued.  

Supporting social services improvement. Behavioral, mental and physical health and  social services are important quality of life components; there are key areas where  appropriate types and levels of county support could help address current needs.  

A new Obstetrics and Gynecology physician started practicing at the Los Alamos Medical  Center in October; the hospital has also hired two Obstetrics and Gynecology nurses and  a part time nurse with 20 years of experience in special care nurseries. As of early  December, there have already been three births at the Medical Center. This was the  culmination of Council, working in partnership with state legislative representation, Los  Alamos National Laboratory staff, County Health Council, and Los Alamos Medical Center  leadership to emphasize the critical importance of a local obstetric and gynecological  capability while constructively identifying options for reestablishment and long-term  viability of these services.  

To continue provision of behavioral, mental and physical health and social services that  are important quality of life components, contracts for programs including the operation  of Senior Centers, Youth Activity Centers, Family Resources, Support, and Parent  Education services and Indigent Health Care for the detention center were updated and  executed. In addition, planning for a youth services gap analysis was initiated to develop  a holistic and strategic look across all youth services and facilities. The gap analysis will  help identify evolving core needs in the community, gaps (or any duplication) in current  services, and opportunities for coordination or collaboration that could result in better  delivery of services to the community, support to the provider organizations, and increased efficiency to maximize the impact of the County’s funding. These programs  now total about 2.5-3.5M$/year. 

With funding approved for investigation and conceptual design of a Tween Center (grades 6-8), that complements the Teen Center and Youth Activity Centers by providing  a safe place for this age group to enjoy activities and programming, efforts focused on development of a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will be issued in  January/February 2021 for evaluation of site locations and to further develop a building  program and costs for this Tween Center. The preferred location is close to the downtown  amenities and similar to the Teen Center programs, but additional outreach to the  communitys youth is needed to move the project consideration forward in 2021. 

County services will benefit from the completion of a robust 2020 Census effort; the  County receives significant federal grant support, especially for our social programs,  based on Census data. Moving deadlines and agile strategies were required to  accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic; nevertheless, Los Alamos County self-response  rates increased from 77.5% (2010) to 83.8%. With Census Bureau Non-Response follow  up, the County and State were determined to be counted at a 99.9% level. The County  benefited from active volunteers, including the Los Alamos Local Complete Count  Committee, who worked to ensure an accurate and complete count. 

Members of a new advisory County Health Council, chartered at the end of 2019, were  appointed by Council. The goal of this new structure is to improve efficiencies in tracking  funding and applying for grants and to continue to give the Council needed insight into  initiatives that will continue to help improving social services. 

Investing in infrastructure. Appropriately balancing maintenance of existing  infrastructure with new investments in county utilities, roads, facilities and amenities  will help improve environmental stewardship, sustainability, and quality of life. 

During the budget process, it was agreed that 24% of the FY2021 General Fund  expenditures will be spent on maintenance and capital replacements to address needed  infrastructure stability. This augments the significant number of infrastructure items that  are not paid for through the General Fund (for example, more than $12.2M for roads and  trails, approximately $3.9M in infrastructure-related Capital Improvement Projects, and  $26.6M in utility infrastructure investments that are funded through each of the four  utility funds). The approved FY21 budget reflected a conservative approach to  expenditures and includes an unspent balance of 2.2M and reserves of 26.7M, 31% of  the most recent annual budget.  

An ordinance to make more funds available for utility infrastructure needs was passed by  Council. For the next three years, Council directed these funds to be reinvested to accelerate critical upgrades to water line infrastructure by increasing investment by approximately $820,000 per year. The planned projects are relining a water supply line along Pajarito Road and installing a replacement water supply line along New Mexico  State Route 4; this will increase reliability and prevent the need to respond to major leaks  that these lines currently experience. 

Continued County participation in the next phase of development of the Carbon Free  Power Project was approved; the County’s investment is capped at $1.26 Million for a  6.37 Mega Watt subscription. The project is due to be completed in 2030; 6.37 Mega Watts (at a 2020 levelized cost of 55$/Mega Watt Hour) is projected to supply about a  third of the County’s electric power needs and, in combination with other  investments/contracts, will support achieving the 2040 Electric Production Carbon  Neutral goal. This year, the project’s reactor received Nuclear Regulatory Commission  Design Certification and DOE issued a ten-year $1.355 Billion grant agreement to  support the project.  

Road improvement projects did not slow down and continued as planned in 2020 with  the Camino Encantado area of Barranca Mesa road reconstruction project completed in  November 2020. Design and construction of a North Mesa road improvement project  (Tsankawi Street, Capulin Road, Alamo Road area) and Sherwood Boulevard drainage  and road improvements (Grand Canyon Drive to Aztec Avenue) are planned for the  summer of 2021 with design already underway.  

Facility improvement projects in 2020 included modifications for COVID-safe operations  including plexiglass partitions at customer service counters, changing mechanical system  air filters more often, installation of hand sanitizing stations and bottle filling stations in  lieu of drinking fountains, and foot pedals to open doors where feasible. The reduced  building occupancies has allowed for additional floor work such as partial carpet  replacement at Mesa Public Library and refinishing the wood floors at the Golf Course  Community Room. 

New Mexico State Road 502/ Trinity roadway and utility upgrades were accomplished  through a cooperative agreement with New Mexico Department of Transportation and  are almost completed with some paving, landscaping and touch-up work remaining.  While on the surface this appears to be a transportation project, the project also  upgraded all utilities within the corridor – some of the infrastructure replaced dated  from 1945. Utility improvements include new waterlines, new low- and high-pressure  gas lines, underground electric and new sewer crossings. Road improvements include  new drainage systems, continuous sidewalks on both sides of the street, additional lanes  for increased road capacity. Safety improvements include realigned Canyon Road  intersection, roundabout, shoulders, pedestrian crossings, and lighting. This project will  allow better flow of traffic into the downtown and the utility improvements have  increased our capacity to better serve our Main Street businesses with safe and reliable  utility services.

Operational sustainability opportunities continue to be pursued and implemented  including a street light replacement program where each year a portion of the  community’s older high-pressure sodium streetlights are being replaced with new LED  technology – reducing energy use and improved ability to adjust light levels and  direction, collaboration with the Environmental Sustainability Board and Zero Waste  Team in seeking additional grant funding to make the purchase of bear resistant refuse  roll carts more affordable for residents, and initiating a food waste composting program  feasibility study in 2021. 

A DocuSign system was procured and will be launched in January 2021. This will improve  turnaround times, improve completion rate, improve customer experience, reduce  printing costs and shipping costs, reduce error rates, reduce time sending, tracking,  correcting and processing all aspects of workflow for County staff, customers, vendors,  and contractors. 

Expand transportation and mobility options and address parking challenges. Work with  regional partners and the Laboratory to consider holistic solutions for the needs and  challenges facing Los Alamos and White Rock in the context of expanded housing and  employment in the County and the desire to create a walk-, ride-, and environmentally  friendly community. 

The County has pushed hard for the project to widen and improve the Truck Route and  New Mexico State Road 4 intersection. This project will add capacity and help reduce  traffic congestion. Additionally, the project will provide better access into Tsankawi (of  Bandelier National Monument) with a future parking lot off the highway to further improve safety at this intersection. The required National Environmental Policy Act  Environmental Assessment has been approved and construction is planned for summer 2021. A project to improve the safety of New Mexico State Road 4 between the  intersection and White Rock, by adding shoulders to both sides of the road, is planned to  start between 2022-23. 

The County continues to collaborate on and fund projects that improve vehicle traffic  flows as well as pedestrian and bicycle connections and safety. 

o Trinity Drive Pedestrian and ADA Improvements. Project is in-progress improving  and repairing the sidewalks and curbs along Trinity Drive between Diamond Drive  and Oppenheimer Drive – scheduled to complete this Winter/Spring 2021,  weather permitting, and funded with a $250,000 State grant. Phase II of the  improvements, Oppenheimer Drive to 15th Street, is anticipated to be funded for  2023/2024 construction.  

o Trinity Drive Road Diet. The New Mexico Department of Transportation funded  and managed a project completed the summer of 2020 that repaved Trinity Drive  and reduced the number of vehicle lanes between Diamond Drove and  Oppenheimer Drive to one lane in each direction – making room for new, dedicated bicycle lanes. The new road configuration improves bicycle and  pedestrian safety as well as improves vehicle traffic flow by use of a center  turning lane for left-hand turns without disrupting the travel lanes. 

o Canyon Trail Underpass. Bids for construction of a tunnel underneath New Mexico  State Road 502 connecting the eastern Canyon Rim Trailhead to the Entrada were  received after a second bidding attempt at the end of November 2020. Funding  agreements between the New Mexico Department of Transportation and County  have been executed and Council will consider the approval of a construction contract in January 2021 for a Spring/Summer 2021 construction timeframe. 

o Urban Trail Corridor. Both phases of this multiuse path have been federally  funded. Phase I will connect to the Canyon Rim Trail at 20th Street and proceed  through the Fuller Lodge lawn to Spruce Street. Phase II will pass through  forested undeveloped landscape surrounding the Canyon Road tennis courts and  terminate at the Aquatic and Nature Centers. New Mexico Department of  Transportation and environmental/cultural approvals, engineering design will  occur in 2021 with construction activities between 2022 and 2024. 

During the January 2021 County Council strategic planning session, the status of the identified 7  strategic priorities will be reviewed, taking into consideration the progress described in this  report. Discussions will include determination of whether these priorities are still the most  important ones for the community, identification of new high-level actions that are needed to  continue progress on the priorities, and whether additional priorities are needed.  

The results of the discussions will be incorporated into the 2021 Strategic Leadership Plan and  used to maintain focus on issues important to the community and help enable multiple other  ongoing initiatives important to the future of our community.