Costly repairs, lack of use blamed; Splash pad planned
Bernalillo County officials say they plan to shut down the swimming pool near the Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center in Alameda and install a water-themed play area in its place.
Low attendance and costly repairs are to blame, said Ed Chismar, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. Chismar said the average attendance at the Alameda pool for the past three years is 21 people a day. That level of attendance, he said, does not make it feasible to do needed renovations on the pool.
Chismar said the county learned from renovating the Paradise Hills pool that repairs can cost more than expected. That pool, as well as the one in Alameda, was built in the 1970s.
The county, he said, had estimated that the pool in Paradise Hills would cost about $406,000 to repair, but instead the cost was $553,000.
“The more they got into the repairs, the more they found wrong with it,” he said. “Once you get involved renovating those older pools, you don’t know what you will run into.”
Breanna Anderson, spokeswoman for the department, said the county will install a “splash pad” in its place. A splash pad has a flat surface with a drain and several apparatuses that spew water. The water is chlorinated and it is recirculated. The splash pad will accommodate up to 100 children at a time. The project, she said, will start next week and be ready to open in time for Memorial Day.
Anderson said a new pool would cost anywhere from $3 million to $4 million, while the splash pool is estimated to cost about $383,000.
Chismar said voters approved a $20 million bond package in 2006. Of that, $1.275 million was set aside for improving county parks and pools. Anderson said the county will use $375,000 of that money to pay for the Alameda splash pad. The remaining $8,000 for the project will come from the general fund, she said.
The county has five swimming pools, three of which were built in the 1970s. The third is the South Valley pool. Chismar said the county researched attendance at all pools to prioritize the county’s needs, and the Alameda pool had the lowest attendance. The highest levels of attendance are at Paradise Hills and Los Padillas, which each average about 160 visitors a day. The pools, he said, are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Steve Wentworth, president of the Alameda North Valley Association, said the splash pool would be great for children but excludes the North Valley’s senior population. He said the association would like the county to ask voters to approve a bond that would pay for a new aquatic center. Chismar attended a recent association meeting to explain the logic behind removing the pool.
“He really listened to us and our concerns,” Wentworth said. “We will work with our elected officials to get an aquatic center.”
Chismar said an aquatic center would be a major undertaking. He said his department will recommend a bond issue that would allow the county to build an indoor pool, which could stay open year-round instead of just during the summer.
Meanwhile, Paradise Hills residents can look forward to having a pool again this summer. The pool has been closed since August 2008. Chismar said the renovations there are close to being completed. The county plans to reopen the pool Memorial Day weekend.