Roswell city councilors on Thursday night ponder a proposal to reopen the Cahoon Park Pool for the summer season. The City Council voted 8-2 against a resolution to reopen the pool after estimated costs to repair and operate the pool for a single season climbed to more than $180,000. (Jeff Tucker Photo)
The Roswell City Council voted 8-2 Thursday night against a proposal to reopen the Cahoon Park Pool this summer after projected costs to reopen the 78-year-old facility soared to more than $180,000.
Supporters of reopening the historic pool said the estimated repair and operational costs were greatly inflated.
“We’re going to get them at the ballot box,” said Richard Garcia, one of the proponents for reopening the pool, referring to March 2018 when five city councilors and the city’s mayor are up for election.
A city staff report presented to city councilors this week stated the known costs of reopening the pool for a portion of the summer season totaled $181,560. In addition, reopening the pool could cost another $47,000 for repairs that might have to be made, upping the total to $228,560.
The pool, last open in the summer of 2015, was leaking 17,000 gallons of water a day and might not be able to pass a state inspection if repairs were made, said Elizabeth Stark-Rankins, the city’s director of administrative services.
The pool’s decking needs to be leveled, extensive cracking exists in the pool’s shell, the pump house is in poor condition, a water shutoff valve needs to be replaced, filter manifolds need to be replaced, the bathhouse is in poor condition, and the fence needs to be repaired, Stark-Rankins said.
The City Council voted 8-1 in April 2016 to decommission the pool. The proposed resolution considered Thursday night would have temporarily recommissioned the pool so that it could be opened to the public eight hours a day, for six days a week, until July 31, when it again would have been decommissioned.
A new $20 million recreation center and aquatic facility at Cielo Grande Recreation Area, with both an indoor and outdoor pool, are on schedule to open in the summer or fall of 2018.
The proposed resolution would have limited costs to $50,000 to get the now-dry pool ready and operational, including minimum necessary repairs, sufficient labor and additional staffing and water costs.
“It’s fixable,” Garcia said to city councilors. “I ask the council to consider this. There are a lot of good things that can happen from this, particularly for the kids. Let’s come together. Let’s work together. We need to do it for the kids. We need to do it for the city.”
Gary Hartwick said he and others believe the pool should not have been permanently closed last spring.
Hartwick said an independent poll found 68 percent of respondents favored reopening the pool this summer.
“I don’t see any reason not to open it,” Hartwick said.
Others from the public said it was time to move on with the new aquatic facility.
“I would like to see that $50,000 put into the new pool,” said lifeguard instructor Rob Stones.
Former Roswell Mayor Tom Jennings, whom Mayor Dennis Kintigh said he would have removed by police from Thursday’s meeting after Jennings began speaking from the audience during a different agenda item discussion, said the city has closed several facilities in recent years, including the Yucca Recreation Center that closed in December 2015.
“I think it can be repaired to be utilized for another summer,” Jennings said of the pool, adding the cracks could be repaired and the decking can be leveled to minimize the hazard of tripping. “I don’t see you closing the golf course. Please vote to open our pool for one more summer.”
City Councilor Juan Oropesa offered an amendment to the proposed resolution that would have reopened the Cahoon pool until the new aquatic facility is built. The new recreation center and aquatic facility are slated to open around August 2018.
City Councilor Caleb Grant said repairing old facilities can become a money pit.
“Every time we touch something, something else is wrong, something else needs to be fixed,” Grant said.
City Councilor Jeanine Corn Best said it’s time to move forward. She said the pool’s piping has rusted, and the bathhouse is dangerous because of electrical problems.
“Your rust is not going to go away unless all your piping is replaced,” Corn Best said. “I believe in our staff when they asked to close the pool.”
Corn Best said any more money spent to rehabilitate the pool would be wasted for the sake of nostalgia.
“History, history, history is all that I’m hearing,” Corn Best said. “I’m not hearing the word future. History is behind us, the future is in front of us.”
City engineer and acting city manager Louis Najar said replacing one pool valve would cost $10,000.
“Let’s put our money toward what needs to be ready,” Corn Best said. “We’ve got to move into the future. We did not make the wrong decision. We made the right choice.”
Oropesa said the city wasted money paying a Texas firm to provide two temporary city managers.
“Please don’t lecture me on wasting money,” Oropesa said, prompting an applause from Cahoon pool supporters.
City Councilor Jason Perry said he would support reopening the pool if the estimated costs weren’t so high.
“I think everyone in this room would agree this pool is not going to open for $50,000,” Perry said.
City Councilor Barry Foster agreed.
“There are big chunks that can be cut out of this, but I don’t see how you get it down to under $100,000,” Foster said of the estimated repair costs.
City Councilor Steve Henderson put an end to any hopes of reopening the pool.
“I can’t now, in good conscience, vote to open this pool,” said Henderson, the City Council’s most senior member. “The cost-benefit is simply not there.”
“I wish that we could open this up for our kids,” added City Councilor Tabitha Denny. “I can’t in good conscience spend that type of money on something that is temporary.”
Roll calls were then held. Oropesa’s amendment failed by a 3-7 vote. Only Oropesa, Foster and City Councilor Natasha Mackey voted for the amendment.
On the final vote, Oropesa and Mackey voted to recommission the pool.
Corn Best, Denny, Foster, Grant, Henderson, Perry, Savino Sanchez Jr. and Art Sandoval voted against the resolution to reopen the pool.
Interim editor Jeff Tucker may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.