Budget hike recommended for proposed leisure pool

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By Kirsten Laskey

The recreational offerings in Los Alamos could include a leisure pool.
But before any ground gets broken, more funds are required to study this proposed capital improvement project (CIP).
As a result, CIP Oversight and Evaluation Committee recommended that Los Alamos County Council approve an additional $50,000 to the phase one study budget. The recommendation was made during the committee’s meeting Tuesday.
The original budget was $50,000 so the additional funds would bring the total budget to $100,000. The additional funds would come from the unused money from the golf course clubhouse CIP.
Planner Bryan Aragon said the additional $50,000 would cover employee costs for the project managers. The original $50,000 is being used to cover consultant fees.
Capital Projects and Facilities Department Director Anne Laurent added because multiple sites are being evaluated for the pool, soil or geo-technical studies may be needed to accurately compare the costs of the site options.
Currently, a survey is being conducted to gather the public’s input on this project. The survey was mailed out Nov. 9 – the objective is to get 400 responses.
“The survey is going out to gather information as far as what the public would like to see, where they would like to see the facility be built and what amenities would be included in it,” Aragon said.
Once the responses are returned, a meeting will be held with the consultants, which administered the survey, to discuss the results in January. A public meeting will also be held.
Denise McCoy, recreation program manager, said having a leisure pool could be a real plus for the community. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our community,” she said.
It would be a year-round attraction, plus it would offer some recreation opportunities for those not into extreme sports such as skiing or skateboarding, McCoy added.
She described a leisure pool as like a water playground.
Currently, the Capital Projects and Facilities Department is looking to the public to determine what this water playground would feature, Aragon said.
It could offer anything from a water slide to a lazy river and a zero depth entry for children.
Frederica Smith, a member of the aquatic center advisory subcommittee, said public support for the project is evidenced by a leisure pool fund. “It’s grown steadily and people continue to send contributions, which demonstrates support in this community for this facility,” she said.
The phase one study was approved on July 12 and the study featured three key points, Aragon said.
• A market analysis to determine the amenities and features that would be incorporated and the community’s needs and desires.
• A business plan that will generate a one-year operating revenue and expense plan.
• A site analysis and concept design to determine a location for the leisure pool and a concept design would be created by the architect.
The two sites considered for the leisure pool are the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center and Piñon Park.
According the county Web site, the goal is to apply for phase two design and construction funds for the leisure pool in March 2011.
A leisure pool is something that has been addressed on and off in the community for 18 years, Smith said.  
It was included in the original design of the aquatic center but was removed to save money. As a substitute Smith said it was proposed to include a removable shelf and to change the temperature of the water. However, the removable shelf is difficult to take in and out of the pool and the temperature of the water cannot be rapidly changed because of the volume of water, she said.
As a result, the Warm Water Weekends were created but these activities are not sufficient for lessons for children or for senior citizens to use the pool.
Smith said, “There’s been a lot of growth for children’s specific pools … they draw a large number of children … we hope we can add that here.”
Farmington and the Genoveva Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe both offer children’s pools, she said.
“Basically we need that warm water, that shallow water, a children-friendly environment and one that can also serve the senior population who uses the warm water as well,” she said.  

Contact Kirsten Laskey at lareporter@lamonitor.com