Outdoor pool plans getting extreme
ASPEN City officials want to make a splash with a new public pool, but just how extreme they want to make it could drown the current $2 million plan.What’s at issue for the City Council is whether to build a Flowrider Pool, which creates a breaking ocean wave for surfers, bodyboarders and body surfers to play in.It would be between a new outdoor pool and two hot tubs in what is now the lawn at the Aspen Recreation Center’s indoor pool area.Although they are uncertain of whether it will all fit in the small grassy area and if citizens want water features other than a public pool, council members on Tuesday approved spending $75,000 for design plans that includes a Flowrider Pool.Council members also are concerned that the cost of the project is much more than anticipated – an extra $530,000 that would come from City Hall’s general fund.
Government lottery allocations, parks and recreation funds and excess property-tax revenue also would pay for the project. In the fall of 2005 under the Tabor Amendment, the public approved spending excess property taxes for several projects, one of which was outdoor pools at the ARC.But the ballot language specifically said a swimming pool – not other water features – so the $700,000 in excess property taxes would pay only for a family leisure pool.The Flowrider Pool is estimated to cost $900,000. The two hot tubs and site work would cost $300,000.To make matters worse, the city of Aspen was denied a $200,000 grant request from the GOCO state lottery fund for the project.”We’re talking about a pretty big hit in funds,” said Mayor Mick Ireland.
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 for teenagers, whose interest in extreme sports is exploding.The council informally discussed the plans on the ARC’s lawn with city staff, members of the advisory committee and residents. Blue lines spray painted around the property indicated where each pool would go. “I’m questioning whether we are trying to accomplish too much in this space,” said City Councilman Steve Skadron, who ultimately agreed to move forward with the conceptual design plans.Ireland agreed that having three water features in the area might be overkill, but he voted to move forward with the design in order to have a basis from which to start.”I think [the area] is beautiful, and I’d hate to muck with it too much,” he said.City Councilman Jack Johnson said he favors a large, outdoor pool and hot tubs because he believes that’s what voters intended the area for.
“The notion of what is designed, what voters expect and what they voted on is important,” he said.City Councilman Dwayne Romero said having a Flowrider Pool would differentiate the ARC from other water facilities in the valley.”Conceptually, I can get behind the program,” Romero said, acknowledging that voters’ intention for a swimming pool could be an issue.Tim Anderson, director of the ARC, said the plans are only preliminary and the design work will nail down just what will work in the space and what won’t.The main leisure pool would be 2,250 square feet. A deck with lounge chairs would surround the entire pool area.Anderson also got the go-ahead from the council to incorporate plans for an additional fitness area in the facility, solar paneling on the roof and a concession stand in the outdoor pool area.Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is email@example.com