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Snowmass diving into pool project

Aspen Times writer

By Steve Benson

Aspen Times Staff Writer

Wading away the summer in a community pool sounds like a cool idea to many Snowmass Village residents, but others are willing to sit on the deck for a while.

Earlier this week, the Snowmass Village Town Council voted 3-1 in favor of issuing citizen-approved bonds for the pool with hopes of breaking ground this summer.

Funding for the pool, to be built in the area around the rodeo grounds and the future entrance to Snowmass, was approved by voters in a November 2000 election.

And while many feel that construction on the community pool is long overdue, others believe moving forward before a design for the entryway is completed and approved is risky.

The entryway would include an assortment of playing fields, open space, the current rodeo grounds, some additional employee housing, possibly a rec center, and the pool.

Councilman Dick Virtue was the lone dissenter at Monday’s Town Council meeting, voting against authorization of the bond issue and construction of the pool. Councilman Doug Mercatoris was absent.

“I don’t feel I’ve got a good handle on the specifics, [and] what design criteria will be used to serve the needs of the community,” Virtue said Wednesday. “I’d hate to put a pool in and find out it’s 500 yards in the wrong direction, or it’s location prohibits some future use of the pool.”

John Dresser, who lives in the Crossing development near the rodeo grounds, agrees with Virtue.

“They’re putting the cart before the horse in a big way,” Dresser said. “I would like to see integrated master planning rather than piecemeal.”

Still, many are confident the town will take the appropriate steps to ensure the pool fits in with the rest of the entryway design before breaking ground.

“They’re doing [the pool] with the entryway … it’s going to be planned with the entryway,” said Barb Yocum, a Snowmass Village resident who coaches swimming. “Not planning it with the entryway, that would be silly.”

Carey Shanks, economic resources director for the town, said the pool will not be built before plans for the entire entryway are completed.

“The goal is to have an entryway master plan and build the pool as the first phase of that plan,” Shanks said. “We would like to know where everything goes and start with the pool.

“One of the reasons we’re working so hard is we can get what the majority of the community wants today, and that’s a community pool.”

Councilman Arnie Mordkin echoed Shanks.

“Voters made a decision a long time ago,” Mordkin said. “We’re just carrying out their wishes – they said to do it and we’re doing it.”

Shanks plans to present three separate conceptual designs to the Town Council in June, before construction begins.

While Virtue said he has confidence the town staff will do a good job, he wished the plans had been presented to the council prior to Monday night’s vote.

“[Town manager] Mike Segrest is a capable guy, he’s been through these things before,” Virtue said. “But until I see [the plans] I won’t know how I feel about it.

“I’d rather spend more money to get the right product that’s going to be used by everyone in the community than spend less and find out it’s not used much at all.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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