Rec district to help Gypsum with outdoor pool
May 6, 2011
GYPSUM, Colorado – Public swimming pools tend to be money pits, but that doesn’t mean people don’t value them as community amenities.
That’s why the town of Gypsum asked the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District to help run the Gypsum Creek Pool.
“Public pools rarely make money,” said Jeff Shroll, Gypsum’s town manager. “A person can look at it as either subsidizing or providing a service to the community.”
Gypsum Creek Pool, as it is unofficially referred to so far, was acquired by the town in 2010 as part of the Cotton Ranch Golf Course purchase. Built in 1997, the outdoor pool was the town’s only swimming pool until the Gypsum Rec Center was built in 2006.
At their April 26 meeting, Gypsum council members approved a memo of understanding with the rec district to run the pool.
“The Town of Gypsum contacted WECMRD about operating the pool,” said Steve Russell, Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District’s director. “(The town) thought it would be worth a try to see if there is sufficient public interest/demand for an outdoor public pool. Because we partner very closely with the town on recreation and we have professional pool management on staff, our board of directors agreed to a one-year trial with WECMRD operating the pool.”
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The rec district made a “worst-case projection” that it might cost as much as $30,000 per year to keep the Gypsum Creek Pool open. That subsidy would be split between the town and WECMRD.
The memorandum of understanding passed April 26 also specifies that the rec district and the town will pay no more than $7,500 each to bring the pool facilities up to snuff.
“There has to be some point where we say, ‘Nah, not worth it,'” Shroll said.
However, the pool’s history of maintenance problems is more rumor than truth, Shroll said.
“It is not as bad as we heard,” he said. “The pool was just poorly maintained by previous owners, but nothing major we are aware of.”
As to why it might be worth keeping an outdoor pool – which is only usable three months of the year – in addition to the Gypsum Rec Center’s indoor pool, Shroll said an outdoor pool is simply a different and desirable experience.
“There are GRC members who don’t use the indoor pool in the summer,” Shroll said.
Russell confirmed that “daily pool deck counts do dip in the summer.”
On April 26, he said the goal is to have the Gypsum Creek Pool operational by June 14.
Regarding Shroll’s comment that public pools have a hard time making money, Russell said that is mostly accurate.
“(Shroll) is right for 90 percent of public pools,” Russell said. “There are newer pools, though, that have incorporated ‘leisure pool design’ – basically making the pool more of a water ‘playground.’ The Eagle Pool incorporates some of those features. Full leisure pools tend to have more slides, sprays, shade areas, lazy rivers, zero-depth entries and very seldom have the ‘rectangle filled with water.’ In general, the public pools are priced lower for daily admission, season passes and swim lessons than private pools; the objective is to provide an amenity for the community. Add that mission to the overall costs of heating, disinfecting, safeguarding, cleaning and repairs for a municipal pools and the possibility of fully covering costs becomes difficult,” Russell said.