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City considers new opening date for rec center

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Pictured is the outdoor pool area of the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center. Jim Burress, director of Parks and Recreation, explained the small metal structures near the edge of the pool are the supports for the future water slides. The building to the left is the indoor pool, and the structure to the right is the recreation wing. (Alison Penn Photo)

City manager recommends beginning of July

Roswell City Councilors and city staff on Wednesday collectively voiced a need for a July opening for the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center.

The construction crew works in the recreation hall of the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center. (Alison Penn Photo)

No formal action was taken on setting the date — only discussion occurred at the General Services Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Chairman Savino Sanchez and fellow councilors Juan Oropesa, Angela Moore and Jacob Roebuck were present for the meeting. The committee decided to not meet next month and resume meetings after the new year. Both Sanchez and Roebuck touched on the public relations benefit of having a consistent opening date.

City staff and city councilors discussed how proposed rec center opening dates have varied during the last year. Kevin Dillon, project and facilities director, reminded the committee that one of the original plans was to have the recreation portion open for basketball season and later open the aquatic side in May, near Memorial Day weekend and Hike It & Spike It, an annual flag football tournament held at Cielo Grande.

Dillon said a new potential grand opening was looking likely for June 1, and the current documented completion date is near the end of June. He added that construction is expected to be at substantial completion near May 15 — but also said the timeframe was not adequate for the recreation staff to open the facility and have it operational by Memorial Day weekend.

Dillon said there are options available to have a soft opening for administrative staff to begin working while the construction of the aquatic side continues. Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services, said the contractor responsible for the pool also recommends not opening on Memorial Day, due to volume, and to allow more time to test the facility.

New opening date

City Manager Joe Neeb made a recommendation to change the proposed June 1 opening date to July 1. Additionally, Neeb recommended a soft and a grand opening. Neeb said July (since it is near the Fourth of July holiday) or even the weekend of June 28 could be potential dates. He said there had been some change orders prolonging the project, which still has to face state inspections, and Dillon said the change orders were on the aquatic center portion and on auxiliary parking at the rec center.

Jim Burress, Parks and Recreation director, said he agreed with Neeb that this proposed new date would to allow the recreation staff time to move in and be prepared to run the rec center. Burress said an added benefit of the date was its proximity to the city’s budget cycle. He also said he visited the rec center on Wednesday and “things are going well.”

Sanchez also encouraged the city to “not take any shortcuts” and to complete the rec center “with a spirit of excellence.” He added that he didn’t want citizens to experience what happened with the closed Yucca Recreation Center.

“You say June now and we’ve been hearing different dates — I don’t want to hear any more dates,” Sanchez said. “Because when we tell people — they ask us when is it going to be open and we tell them what we hear. And then, we hear that no, it’s been moved and that’s happened several times for the rec center. We were trying to get in there for basketball season and that didn’t happen. There’s people waiting for that so they wouldn’t have to go all over the city to practice and to play and all that stuff …

“So let’s just — if we’re going to set a date, let’s set a date and that’s what we do. Even if you have to move it out, I’d rather you move it out and we have a solid date — instead of us just going in there in increments.”

Additional rec updates 

According to the Wednesday meeting’s agenda, the hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. The agenda also stated the outdoor aquatic facility is planned to be Memorial Day (with the coming year as an exception) to Labor Day with hours being Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

At the rec center currently, Burress said the construction crew is compacting soil to put in the sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, as well as pouring the cement that holds the water slides, painting, conducting finish work — and will soon be preparing another layer to the new gymnasium floor. He said the basketball backboards have also been installed. He said the rec center is “coming together and is very exciting.”

Oropesa asked if there were any other foreseeable delays. In response, Gilbert said no, and the staff is working on personnel items such as preparing current staff, planning on hiring new people and preparing programming.

“I’m glad that we’re getting close to seeing this thing open and done,” Roebuck said. “Certainly the city has been too long without both a rec center and a pool.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.