BY MAIRE O’NEILL
When the agenda was distributed electronically for Tuesday’s Los Alamos County Council meeting it included the introduction of an ordinance related to a 2019 Project Participation Agreement (PPA) with TNJLA LLC under a Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) agreement. Under that PPA, the County agreed to transfer County-owned property appraised at $1,825 million located at the 20th Street Extension across from Ashley Pond.
The proposed transfer of the six lots was to be contingent on TNJLA obtaining financing for development of a Marriott extended stay hotel with a conference center and a stand-alone food and beverage space on the property. The property had been subdivided by the County and was expected to be available for small businesses seeking places to build. When the proposed TNJLA LEDA agreement was first announced, again on a Council agenda, there was extensive opposition from members of the community.
It was adamantly supported by Councilors Sara Scott, David Izraelevitz. See https://losalamosreporter.com/2019/10/03/council-supports-hotel-conference-center-project-in-5-2-vote/. Councilor Randall Ryti and former County Councilor Antonio Maggiore were opposed. Former Councilors Pete Sheehey, Katrina Martin and James Robinson also voted in favor.
When the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting came out a week ago, it noted that the County had already executed a Waiver and Release Agreement with TNJLA on June 23. It said under that agreement TNJLA had agreed to waive and release the County from “any and all rights and obligations it has or could exercise under the PPA”.
“In turn, the County agrees to pay the sum of $17,000 in consideration of all claims against the County to the date of this agreement,” the agenda packet stated.
It noted that Ordinance 718, which was on the agenda for introduction, and the executed agreement “provides an orderly path forward for both parties, and if approved, makes the County whole”.
The Los Alamos Reporter reached out by email to County Manager Steven Lynne Monday to ask what the $17,000 was about. In response, Lynne said, “The $17,000 is explained in Exhibit A of proposed Ordinance 718 which is being introduced tomorrow night. I have pasted in a partial excerpt below. The full item is available in the agenda.”
An excerpt from Exhibit A of proposed Ordinance 718 received from County Manager Steven Lynne. Courtesy LAC
As the excerpt, seen above, did not provide the grounds for the $17,000 payment to TNJLA, the Reporter again wrote back to Lynne noting that she had previously read the excerpt but that “it still doesn’t explain what the amount is for and how it was calculated”.
Lynne replied, “The amount was negotiated. It enables a full release of the property, unencumbered, about a year sooner than the original PPA would have provided”.
The Reporter spoke with two County Councilors prior to Tuesday’s meeting but neither knew the specifics of the $17,000 amount.
The proposed ordinance is expected to be on the Aug. 9 County Council agenda for a public hearing.