Eagle spreads its (water) wings
Find the swim fins and get ready to inflate the pool toys. Eagle’s new swimming pool is set to open next week.
The pool, half of a $4 million-plus ice rink and swimming complex, will welcome its first guests June 14. Local swimming enthusiasts are itching to take their first plunges in the new pool.
“I’m just ecstatic that we’re going to have a facility like this in Eagle,” said Charlie Ebel, a former competitive diver and a member of the Friends of the Pool group.
The people who will manage the facility are still working like mad to make next weekend’s opening date. “It’s going to be close; we’re doing everything we can to get open,” said Sheryl Rebitzke of the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, which is partnering with the town on construction of the complex.
As of early this week, a lot of detail work remained: The bottom of the pool still had to be plastered; grates were to be installed on the gutters around the pool; and the locker rooms were not yet finished.
But the work is coming together quickly, and Eagle Assistant Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski said the pool should open on time.
The opening date is about three weeks later than originally planned. Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell said the company building the facility had to dig up and re-lay pipes before concrete work could begin this spring. The contractor absorbed the cost of the plumbing re-do, but the new work was a major factor in the delay.
Still, Lisa Kosak, the mother of two boys who swim on teams during the summer, said mid-June isn’t such a long time to wait.
“In a project this size, if you’re a couple of weeks late you’re pretty much on time,” she said.
The willingness to wait, even if it’s anxious waiting, was reflected by several members of Friends of the Pool. The pool found its “friends” in something of a rush late last summer, when a group of swim team parents, local swimmers and others successfully pushed for expansion of the pool’s competitive area from four lanes to six.
The Recreation District and the town split the $100,000 cost of the expansion.
Friends of the Pool also has raised about $10,000 to contribute to the expansion project, and group members say they hope to keep contributing.
“We’d like to provide scholarships, help buy pool toys and things like that,” said pool friend Stephanie Samuelson. “Mostly, we just want quality aquatics for the west end of the valley.”
While Samuelson, a swimmer, will probably get her share of time in the lap lanes, her kids will enjoy the recreational side of the pool.
Samuelson said the divider between lap lanes and recreational areas means the pool will accommodate different, simultaneous activities for families.
Big kids will line up for the large water slide; while smaller kids can play on a frog-shaped slide. The Recreation District is sponsoring a name-the-frog contest, with the winning entry to be announced by the pool’s July 12 grand opening. Rebitzke said the leading vote-getter so far is “Willy.”
When July 12 rolls around, much of the rest of the facility is expected to be operational, if not open. No activities have been planned yet for the indoor ice rink, but a sheet of ice will be frozen for the grand opening. Powell said plans to keep the rink a November through April facility haven’t changed, but the mid-summer ice sheet will be a good way to perform the initial test of the ice-making equipment.
The Recreation District may use some money from recently issued bonds to purchase “sports flooring” for the rink, so it can be used by in-line skaters and others when there’s no ice.
The money to fund the complex comes from local voters, who last fall granted the recreation district board the authority to issue bonds backed by revenue from a recent tax increase that generates about $1 million per year. Voters also gave the Recreation District bonding authority that will allow as much as $12 million in bonds to be issued. The Recreation District’s board has promised to spend that money on new projects and facilities in Edwards and Gypsum, as well as Eagle.
But before anything else is done, the pool is going to open. Getting ready has been a challenge for pool manager Jill Runty, who has never opened a brand-new facility before.
“There’s been some trial and error,” Runty said. “But there haven’t been too many big bumps. It’s a beautiful facility and we have a wonderful staff. I’m really excited.”
For more information about the new pool’s opening, call the Recreation District office, 328-6909.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
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