BY MAYOR O’NEILL
Following a long agenda item involving three presentations and multiple public comments, Los Alamos County Council voted 4-2 on Tuesday evening to ask staff to “maximize the use of 2 , $ 5 million to develop documents ready to tender as soon as possible using existing documentation (technical drawings and specifications) with the goal of completion in 2022: make improvements to holes 4 to 18 and install two new toilets (one at the front nine and one at the rear nine).
All three presentations were made by Parks and Recreation Board Member Jaime Aslin, County Engineer Eric Martinez and County Community Services Director Cory Stryon. Councilors Sean Williams and David Reagor voted against the motion.
The motion that was passed continued: “To support securing the design services of a golf course design professional to concurrently develop design options to improve holes 1 through 3 and areas of golf course design. practice / practice tees including ‘cost estimates’.
The motion included soliciting public comment in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Council and returning to Council with recommendations for phased implementation of the golf course improvements. The motion further stated that the design options will take into account continuous improvements to ensure safety without affecting the quality of teaching and learning facilities, will include assessment of the following:
- Enlarge the course to accommodate one or two new holes so as not to shorten the overall length of the course while minimizing the impacts on existing trails and open spaces to the extent possible;
- Widen the driving range to minimize or eliminate safety nets and include improvements for driving and playing the game; and
- Practice area improvements, cart path upgrades, and any other course improvements identified during the design process.
The vote included a directive for staff to come back with a budget review as soon as possible.
Originally there were two motions on the agenda: Motion 1 which followed the suggestions of the Los Alamos Golf Association (LAGA) and was chosen by the Parks and Recreation Council. Motion 2 was prepared by county staff and the motion that passed was a revised version of Motion 2.
Golf course information provided by the county indicates that in December 2017, the council approved a budget of $ 4.524 million for the improvement of the golf course with the main aim of replacing the irrigation system with d ‘other elements to prioritize because the funding allows it with improvements to the safety net at the practice identified as a project to be considered. The planned design and construction of the irrigation project was completed in February 2021.
In May 2021, a design concept created by a design professional was presented to the Parks and Recreation Board (PRB) at a public meeting that included an expanded driving range that offered to renovate holes 3, 4, 5 and 6 and to improve the bunkers on the front 9. The agenda states that “the design professional and staff have answered questions, and with no apparent objections or additional suggestions regarding the design, the architect of the course de golf completed the design documents in June 2021 in accordance with the project schedule and service agreement. ”.
The context provided indicates that while the project was prepared for publicity of construction bids, staff received numerous design concerns from LAGA members and as a result staff suspended all other activity on the site. the project and held a public meeting with LAGA members in July 2021 and better understood LAGA’s response and opposition to “shortening the golf course associated with the proposed design”.
In October 2021, there was another public input and information meeting followed by a presentation to the PRB to continue the dialogue, address concerns and comments from LAGA, and gain further input. County staff provided an overview of the project history and existing conditions and presented various developed scenarios, including budgetary impacts, for consideration by the PRNB. Staff also received recommendations from LAGA supporting the use of practice-restricted balloons as a method of safety. Staff also met with members of the Los Alamos Youth Golf Association and received feedback.
Meanwhile, the design consultant left the project stating that the project was heading in a direction beyond the original scope and that any additional service associated with restricted flight balls would put his company in an awkward position for make recommendations beyond the professional expertise usually provided by golf course architects.
In November 2021, the county obtained new technical information from Tanner Consulting that included a ball flight study of the LAGA-recommended Restricted Flight / Low Compression Pointfive Ball to address safety concerns at the driving range.
“The analysis of the flight of the ball illustrates that the current layout of the net is sufficient with the use of this type of ball and may even allow a partial removal or lowering of the existing net,” the package said. “During this period as well, LAGA also supplied Pointfive balls for use by golf course customers and a customer survey was conducted. The results show mixed results by customers on the proposed use of this bullet at the range. Additional commentary on the use of this specific restricted flight ball was provided by Tanner Consulting, Shamrock Hills Golf Club in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and the Pointfive Golf Company. Other design options have been considered over the past six months, but no consensus has been reached.
Motions 1 and 2 were as follows:
Movement option 1:
I move that Council direct staff to use the remaining PIC funds currently available to issue a RFP (potentially design / build) for a golf course designer / building contractor to:
– Rehabilitate / add bunkers, tees, greens, trees and areas in poor condition on holes four (4) to eighteen (18);
– Install two (2) new toilets (one at Front 9 and another at Back 9); and
– Continue the use of restricted flight balloons to temporarily address the safety concerns on the driving range while a new design can be developed.
I further suggest that the Council consider a [future] budget review for a new golf course design consultant to complete revised design concepts; lead public participation; seek the necessary rezoning approvals from the Planning and Zoning Commission and Council; and complete the engineering design and tender documents for the following improvements to the golf course:
– Enlarge the course to accommodate one or two new holes so as not to shorten the total length of the course for holes one (1) to three (3);
– Widen the driving range to minimize or eliminate safety nets and include improvements for driving and playing the game; and
– Design additive alternatives for upgrades to the carriage path.
Movement option 2:
I move that Council support obtaining the design services of a new golf course design professional to:
– Develop ready-to-tender documents (technical drawings and specifications) to make improvements to holes 4 to 18 as recommended by the Parks and Recreation Council;
– Simultaneously develop design options to improve holes 1 to 3 and practice areas / teeing off tees, including cost estimates;
– Solicit comments from the public in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Commission; and
– Return to Council with recommendations for phased implementation of golf course improvements, including associated budget proposals.
I further suggest that, in order to address golf course safety concerns, restricting the use of balls or clubs on the driving range should only be a temporary solution. Concept design options will take into account ongoing improvements that address safety without affecting the quality of teaching and learning facilities, and will include assessment of the following:
– Enlarge the course to accommodate one or two new holes so as not to shorten the overall length of the course while minimizing the impacts on existing trails and open spaces to the extent possible;
– Widen the driving range to minimize or eliminate safety nets and include improvements in the practice of driving and playing small games; and
– Praction area improvements, cart path upgrades and any other course improvements identified during the design process.
As previously stated, the final motion was a revised version of Motion Option 2.