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Aspen OKs plans for outdoor pool

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Elected officials are diving into a new plan for an outdoor public pool that should debut within a couple of years.

The Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved the design of a new 3,500-square-foot swimming pool at the Aspen Recreation Center that will cost an estimated $2 million.

Contracts to build the pool are expected to be finalized by June and initial site work will begin in August. Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2009.



The City Council also agreed to pursue placing solar panels on the roof of the ARC to heat the pool and two hot tubs, which will be located in the lawn area just outside the indoor facility. The solar component is projected to cost $250,000, and city staff estimates a 20-year payback on the loan.

Funding of the pool will come from various sources.




Under the TABOR Amendment, the public in 2005 approved spending excess property taxes for several projects, one of which was an outdoor swimming pool at the ARC. The TABOR allocation is $1.2 million. Another $250,000 will come from the state’s lottery revenues for 2007 and 2008, and the city parks department will contribute $583,000 for site work, according to Tim Anderson, the city’s recreation director.

A previous plan to have a FlowRider pool ” which creates a breaking ocean wave for surfers, bodyboarders and body surfers to play in ” has been scrapped. It would have cost an additional $900,000 in unallocated funds.

Council members in February told city staff to lose the FlowRider because they said it wasn’t the best use of public money and they questioned whether it was just a fad.

The latest design includes a pool that is 60 percent larger ” or an additional 1,475 square feet. It also will have a grottos feature similar to the Devil’s Punchbowl on Independence Pass, which offers cliff jumping into a large pool of water in the Roaring Fork River.

The pool will have a three-meter jump into 12 feet of water with rock features built around it. The rest of the pool will have varying degrees of depth, beginning at five feet. Lap lanes of 25 yards will be incorporated, as well as a climbing wall at one end of the pool. The hot tubs located off the pool deck will be designed to have a waterfall and grottos area.

Underwater benches in the shallow parts of the pool and a large deck surrounding the aquatic features also are part of the plan. The overall area will be designed to feel like an alpine environment, Anderson said.

The pool will operate 100 days a year, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The hot tubs will run year-round.

While the addition of the outdoor pools will increase the amount of energy consumed by the ARC, the overall carbon footprint for the building is expected to be significantly reduced.

Based on the council’s concerns about energy use, city staff has come up with ways to considerably cut the ARC’s energy consumption. The facility currently consumes more energy than any other city government facility, according to Kim Peterson, the city’s global warming project manager.

City Councilman Jack Johnson on Tuesday asked Peterson if the city would be acting responsibly with the new plan at the ARC based on her calculations. She answered in the affirmative and explained why.

By adding solar hot water, making energy retrofits to the facility and switching from Holy Cross Energy to Aspen Electric service, greenhouse gasses produced by the ARC will be cut in half, Peterson said.

Energy retrofits are estimated to save 368,908 kilowatt hours of electricity and 98,037 CCFs (100 cubic feet) of natural gas annually. That translates into a reduction of 825 tons of carbon dioxide ” roughly what 36 average Aspen homes emit in one year, according to Peterson.

Once a new power line is run from the new Castle Creek Hydropower Plant, the ARC will be on the newly created Aspen Electric service. When the hydropower comes on line, Aspen Electric will be 82 percent renewably powered. Holy Cross Energy currently is 8 percent renewably powered. The move will save 1,020 tons of greenhouse gases by making the switch, which is equivalent to total emissions of 44 average Aspen homes, Peterson said. The switch is expected to occur at the end of 2009.

Adding a solar hot water system to the ARC is estimated to save 51,559 CCFs of natural gas a year, which equals 260 tons of CO2 ” equivalent to total emissions of 11 Aspen homes a year.

Without any of the energy conservation measures, the new pool and hot tubs would produce 105.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year ” the equivalent of 4.6 Aspen homes. With the energy savers, the new pools will emit 28.2 tons a year, which is the same as 1.3 Aspen homes. Those estimates are based on the family pool operating 100 days in the summer from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 84 degrees, and the hot tubs operating 365 days a year at 104 degrees.

csack@aspentimes.com

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