City to muffle ARC pool din |

City to muffle ARC pool din

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Sound baffles will be installed over the swimming pools at the Aspen Recreation Center to help muffle the din, but video surveillance cameras at the ARC got a thumbs down from the City Council on Tuesday.

In all, the council endorsed roughly $140,000 worth of capital improvements at the facility, but put off decisions on some other requests. Most of the approved upgrades are aimed at improving the new center’s operation or safety.

Some 800 fabric panels will be suspended from the ceiling above the pools, at an estimated cost of $75,000, to cut down on the sound reverberation when the pools are full of people.

The din makes it difficult to hear anything, including a cry for help to a lifeguard, according to Tim Anderson, the city’s recreation director.

The baffles are something the city knew it was going to have to add after the ARC opened, noted City Manager Steve Barwick. The $20 million facility has been open for nine months.

“I can attest to the noise out there,” said Councilman Terry Paulson. “I would put this at the top of the list as a priority. I just know that what’s there now is not acceptable.”

“It gets distracting from enjoyment of the facility, aside from the safety concerns,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards agreed.

Anderson also suggested installing a $30,000 video monitoring system to help ARC staffers keep an eye on the new fitness rooms that will go into the center, and to help cut down on minor incidents of vandalism that have occurred inside and outside the building.

Council members, however, balked at the intrusive measure.

“I just can’t go there. I can’t support this,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said.

“Actually, I agree,” said Councilman Tim Semrau. “It’s a little too much Big Brother for this community.”

On the other hand, partitions are already being constructed to block views into the men’s/boy’s locker room and the figure skaters’ locker room, which are located directly across a corridor from one another. When the doors are opened, there’s the potential for peaking.

The council also agreed to hire a consultant to figure out how to solve the summer heat problem on the third floor of the ARC, where the Aspen Youth Center is located. Temperatures in the youth center reached the upper 80s by 9 a.m. during the summer, said Laura Morris, recreation center executive director.

Roughly $11,000 to install turnstiles in the ARC also got a nod from the council.

Staffers hoped users would stop at the front desk, but some are sneaking by without paying, Anderson said. Five people a day sneaking past could equate to $9,000 a year in lost revenues, he estimated.

“We need something that creates a barrier ” that makes people stop by the front desk,” he said.

Users with passes will be able to swipe the magnetic strip at the turnstile and come on in, Anderson said.

The council held off on spending nearly $100,000 on flooring for the ice rink to accommodate special events there. The city is also looking into some type of covering that can be used to protect the grass in its parks during certain activities. Semrau suggested staffers explore a covering that works on both surfaces.

“If we’re going to make a massive investment, let’s see if it can cover everything, so to speak,” he said.

Other expenditures that won the council’s OK included $10,000 for lighting on the pedestrian bridge that links the ARC to the schools campus and $10,000 for disco/strobe lighting in the rink that can be used during special events and to spice up public skate periods.

The funds will come from about $360,000 in a capital reserve budget for the ARC.

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