BY KATIE BRUELL
People in Los Alamos love our trails and open space. This has been confirmed in survey after survey—most recently in the Community Services Department’s Integrated Community Services Master Plan survey. 93% of respondents use our trails. 96% use our parks and open spaces (it would have been nice to have those separated in the survey, since open space is different from developed parks). Notably, only 31% use the golf course. Overall, trails got a 4.6 out of 5 rating on the question “How important are the following facilities to your household?” Parks and open space also got 4.6 out of 5. The golf course got 2.4 out of 5. The company hired to evaluate the survey results said, “Future discussions evaluating whether the resources dedicated to supporting [the golf course, among others] outweigh the benefits may be constructive.” I.e., stop putting money into the golf course because not as many people in town use or value it.
Yet at this week’s meeting, the Parks and Recreation board voted to remove 4.5 acres of open space and 135 mature trees to increase the golf course’s footprint. And the community services department is still pushing a plan to turn open space into a bike skills park.
If the point of doing a master plan is to look at all priorities and projects with a big-picture view, then why is the Community Services Department ignoring the big picture? People live in Los Alamos because they love our trails and open spaces. The Community Service Department’s biggest priority, then, should be protecting, enhancing, and preserving our trails and open spaces. Instead, they seem intent on cutting into our open space and giving more of it to niche interests. We have a perfectly good golf course. We have so many non-open-space areas to put a skills park. The Community Services Department should listen to the majority of Los Alamos residents, not to special interest groups, and take a true big-picture view of its best asset: its open, natural spaces.