Aspen outdoor pool plan drowning in details
ASPEN ” Plans to build what could be a nearly $3 million outdoor public pool facility appear to have gone off the deep end.
What’s at issue for the Aspen City Council is whether to build a Flow Rider pool, which creates a breaking ocean wave for surfers, bodyboarders and body surfers to play in.
The wave pool would be located between a new outdoor family pool and two hot tubs in what is now the lawn in front of the Aspen Recreation Center’s (ARC) indoor pool area.
The City Council on Tuesday was asked to approve phase one of the plan, which includes the family pool, a grottos area and the hot tubs at a cost of $1.8 million.
But instead of approving phase one, council members spent a considerable amount of time discussing whether a Flow Rider feature is appropriate given that it will cost an extra $900,000.
In the fall of 2005, under the Tabor Amendment, the public approved spending excess property taxes for several projects, one of which was an outdoor swimming pool at the ARC. To pay for phase one, the Tabor allocation is $1.1 million. Another $150,000 will come from the state’s lottery revenues, and the city of Aspen’s parks department will contribute $583,000 for site work.
And while the council decided last summer that hot tubs and grottos should be part of the overall plan along with the family pool, it directed staff to find other funding sources to pay for the Flow Rider.
But now they aren’t so sure a Flow Rider is the best use of public money and question whether a wave pool isn’t just a fad that eventually will fade away.
Over the past year, the ARC Advisory Committee surveyed hundreds of potential users and several recreational groups to determine what they wanted out of the pools. The committee concluded that there are no water features in Aspen geared toward teenagers, whose interest in extreme sports is exploding.
The council asked the development team working on the plan to come back with a design that eliminates the Flow Rider pool and makes the family pool larger.
Staff plans to break ground on the project in August and begin construction in the summer of 2009.
The family pool could include a climbing wall, underwater benches, lap lanes and a large deck surrounding it.
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.