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Our Opinion: A welcome settlement

March 03, 2001

As you read this, the check could be in the mail.

Whether it is or isn't, the $2.8 million settlement between the county and the insurance company that guaranteed the work of a now-defunct construction company to build infrastructure at the Gateway of the Americas project is welcome news.

The North American Insurance Co. of Oklahoma reportedly has 30 days to mail the check once the company verifies that its settlement offer was approved by the county Board of Supervisors last week.

In exchange for the money, NAICO is off the hook as far as any further responsibility it might have had in the issue; an issue that has been festering and delaying timely development of what has been touted as the single largest future source of jobs in the county.

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We welcome the settlement, and we look forward to an intensive campaign of construction work that will finally see the completion of the needed foundation that will allow the Gateway project to reach its full potential.

In a related matter, it's unfortunate to hear Los Alamos Land Co. is having such a hard time economically, what with a reported $22 million in debts and no income.

Far be it for us to speculate as to the reasons for such a precarious position. Los Alamos principal Thomas Nassif thinks the company will be better off once the county gets the settlement money and quickly finishes the infrastructure work, as Los Alamos must sell land in the Gateway area to make ends meet.

We hope whatever time it takes for Los Alamos to see a positive revenue stream is short, as $8.36 million of its debt is owed in the form of Mello-Roos infrastructure bonds guaranteed by the county. Though the county would end up owning some of the land in the Mello-Roos district if Los Alamos were to default, we'd prefer to see Los Alamos succeed and not have the county put in a position of trying its hand at activities best left to the private sector.

Adding to Los Alamos's woes is a recent court ruling allowing the withdrawal of an attorney who was representing Los Alamos in its lawsuit against the county. The law firm withdrew because Los Alamos has not been paying its legal bills.

Perhaps with the $2.8 million slated for infrastructure work, it's time for Los Alamos to drop its suit against the county and for all parties to move forward on the goal of developing the Gateway project and the dream of thousands of new jobs.

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