Bartnik: Let’s talk about pools at Mountain Rec
Thank you to everyone who has recently been engaged and has shared their feedback with us regarding the pools in Gypsum and Eagle. We’ve heard some inaccurate statements shared online and would like to address what’s happening, first-hand.
As always, we are here to answer your questions and hear your concerns. Every staff member, including myself, joined Mountain Recreation because we all have a passion to serve and put others’ needs above our own. Most importantly, our staff loves this community. Everyone is more than willing to step in whenever our community needs us, including during the pandemic. Thanks to the entire staff team, we were able to be the first rec center in Colorado to open and led the way for more to open.
The Eagle Pool has encountered a series of issues over its 20-year lifetime — many related to poor subsurface soils. The southwest corner of the lap pool had dropped enough in 2014 to require repair in the off-season. Leaking underground mechanical system pipes were repaired in 2017 after a mid-season closure.
Each year, staff feels uneasy until the time the pump and filtration systems fire up and are confirmed to be operating properly. In 2021, the pool was opened for the full season safely. Mountain Rec and town staff could not have forecasted that the subsurface would move as much as it did this winter.
On May 6, we released our annual State of the District communicating upcoming lifeguard challenges and noting the subsurface issues affecting the Eagle Pool. On May 20, we issued a joint press release with the town of Avon publicizing more opportunities for lifeguard certification classes in addition to our regular trainings in April and announcing the Gypsum Creek Pool would not open due to lifeguard shortages. On May 30, we discovered a secondary issue at the Eagle Pool — an unusual water loss — and announced the Eagle Pool opening would be delayed.
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We immediately diverted all lifeguard resources to offer more pool hours at the Gypsum Rec Center and started internal discussions on an approach to open the Gypsum Creek Pool if we found out Eagle could not open. On June 10, we learned the Eagle pool’s issues would keep it from opening this summer and immediately executed the plans to open the Gypsum Creek Pool.
Some folks have asked why we didn’t open the Gypsum Creek Pool at the beginning of the season or once we knew the Eagle Pool’s opening would be delayed. It’s all about lifeguards. With current lifeguard numbers down following the pandemic, there are not enough to operate all three district pools. We made the difficult decision to prioritize opening the Eagle Pool because it has much higher visitation, offers a wider variety of amenities for all ages, and we knew the Gypsum Rec Center pool would still be available for residents of Gypsum.
Had we opened Gypsum Creek while still diagnosing Eagle — only to find Eagle’s issues were a quick fix — we would’ve had to pull all lifeguards (thus closing Gypsum Creek) and wasting water and a considerable amount of tax dollars. Rather than jump to a decision without all the facts, we decided to allow the engineers and pool experts the time needed to properly diagnose the issues at the Eagle pool.
While we wish more than anything for the Eagle pool to be open, it’s just not in the cards. Mountain Rec will not open a public pool that is not safe to swim in. The repairs needed will require more time to complete than the summer is long. We are working with pool builders and engineers to determine repair and replacement costs and will continue to diligently weigh all options with the town of Eagle.
As always, we invite our community to get engaged, and we welcome everyone at our monthly board meetings. We’re all about feedback, especially when it’s constructive and delivered with compassion and an intent to help solve the problems we’re facing. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us at info@MountainRec.org.
Janet Bartnik is the executive director at Mountain Recreation. To contact Janet, email her at JBartnik@MountainRec.org.