BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair James Robinson says his vote at the Mar. 16 Council meeting on whether or not the County should purchase the CB Fox and Reel Deal Theater buildings on Central Avenue will be based on several factors.
In an interview with the Los Alamos Reporter Tuesday, Robinson said he voted in December in favor of the 90 days due diligence period for the purchase agreement with Colorado-based developer Matt Miles for the two properties.
“At the time, I felt being able to acquire these buildings could help us achieve the various goals that we have set that are generally hampered by the need to rely on other land owners in the community,” Robinson said.
He said the fact that the results of the Los Alamos Housing Study showed the County is in desperate need of housing to just meet current needs as well as the potential loss of an iconic building in Los Alamos drove his vote.
“At the time, the memo from the County Attorney was still new, and I did not fully understand its limitations, but hoped those could be addressed in the due diligence period,” Robinson said.
At the February 2 Council meeting, following the presentation by County staff on options for the two buildings, Robinson noted that presentation was being discussed late in the evening with only 14 people in attendance at the virtual meeting. He asked if there was going to be an effort to solicit other public comment about the proposed project prior to the Mar. 16 decision and if the information already available would be put on the County’s online Open Forum to solicit further public comment. Robinson pushed for getting feedback from the public to see if the community agrees with the proposed purchase, seeing which options they might like and to gathering comments, not to be incorporated in the final product but just so that Council would not just start with the public joining in at the Mar. 16 meeting.
“I will weigh the results of the Open Forum survey that has been seeing robust attention, e-mails to council, and comments on various Facebook posts. I pushed to have this put on the Open Forum so the council could not only gather public input for the various options presented to the council, but also whether or not we even purchase the buildings,” Robinson said.
He said next he will see what progress has been made on the hurdles presented in the memo from the County Attorney related to the covenants in the purchase agreement related to the covenants on the parking situation on the CB Fox property.
“Those hurdles are not insignificant, and I will need to hear if we have the ability to overcome them and how much time it will take to achieve it,” Robinson said.
Finally, he said he will need to see the costs developed for each option that was presented to Council.
“The purchase price of the two buildings is not the only cost that needs to be weighed when casting my vote,” he said.
According to County staff, the estimated costs will not be ready for review prior to the closure of the Open Forum Survey which is slated at 5 p.m. today, Wednesday.
“I am expecting a robust discussion from Council at the Mar. 16 meeting., but until then, I am reading and listening to what the community is saying. I have in no way made up my mind.,” Robinson said.