City ready to dive into pool |

City ready to dive into pool

Janet Urquhart

Councilman Tom McCabe summed up the Aspen City Council’s thoughts on the recreation complex proposed at Iselin Park after rehashing the design plans for the umpteenth time at the close of a lengthy budget discussion Monday.

Longtime local swim instructor Toni Kronberg, who has pestered the council and city officials repeatedly to tweak the design of the swimming facilities planned at the park, found the council out of patience on the subject.

Kronberg has suggested the planned leisure pool be split into two pieces, allowing one pool to be built outdoors. It would also give the town a deep-water pool that could be used for diving and accommodate teenagers. It would also be the appropriate depth for working with handicapped users, she argued.

The six-lane lap pool in the plans could then function solely for its intended purpose, she said. Kronberg predicted the city will see full-time use of that pool for lap swimming, leaving no time for older kids to recreate in the deep end.

Kronberg has repeatedly complained that the pool complex, as currently planned, won’t serve Aspen’s teens and again linked the city’s lack of amenities for teens to last year’s crime spree by a group of local boys.

Mayor Rachel Richards, whose son is now serving time for his role in the spree, objected.

“You have thrown that into my face for the past six months now,” she told Kronberg. “It’s an especially sensitive topic for me.

“I don’t think a deep-water pool would have prevented the crime spree last summer.”

Splitting the leisure pool into two will cost about $350,000 more for a project that is already $3.5 million over budget, according to Steve Bossart, project manager with the city’s asset management department.

The council agreed the complex won’t be all things to all people, but argued it will meet most people’s needs. Some of the handful of citizens who attended the discussion agreed.

“I think it’s the most exciting project I’ve seen in this community in a long, long time,” said Scott Writer, head of a group working to raise $8 million in private funds for a planned ice rink at the complex.

To date, $2 million in contributions has been committed, and the group will have raised the $4.3 million it needs by January in order for the city to break ground on the rink, Writer predicted.

He compared the planned complex to a fully-loaded Volvo. “Toni wants a Rolls-Royce,” Writer said.

But Kronberg was not alone in her concerns.

Judy Schumacher, a mother of six children, said the city is missing the boat if it doesn’t build an outdoor pool in the first phase of the project.

“I really still feel that’s something worth fighting for,” she said. “If it’s not done now, it’s never going to be done.”

A third, outdoor pool is included in the designs, to be built when funds are available.

The complex, which has grown in scope since the city sought $4 million for a pool as part of a bond issue OK’d by voters, is now expected to cost more than $17 million.

It will include two pools, a new youth center, a privately funded ice rink, locker rooms and other common areas. Scheduled for construction starting next year, the complex will replace the aging Moore Pool at the park.

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