OURAY – With a $174,000 bathhouse facelift now complete, the Ouray City Council acknowledged this week that it’s time to take the plunge and formulate a plan for major infrastructure improvements at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
The pool dates back to the 1920s, and generations of Ouray City Councillors have agreed that it is in need of a complete overhaul.
The matter was recently identified as a priority at council goal-setting and budget work sessions, and was discussed in more detail at Monday’s regular council meeting, where council members unanimously agreed to authorize the formation of an exploratory committee devoted to pool improvements.
This ad hoc group, to be comprised of a variety of community stakeholders, will convene as soon as next month to discuss improvement needs, evaluate priorities, and provide a recommended course of action to council.
“I liken this to the to creation of the Home Rule Charter Commission,” City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli told council, referring to the group that came together in 2008 to hash out the contents of Ouray’s Home Rule Charter. “They will lay out the details. We (council and staff) are only a small segment that would be involved in this process.”
Council welcomed the idea of passing the bulk of the planning work on to such a committee.
“It would be a time saver for us,” said Councilor Richard Kersen. “We waste a lot of time at all our meetings on frivolous crap.”
Mayor Bob Risch pointed out that when the pool was originally built in the late 1920s it was intended and designed for summer use only. He stressed that the million-gallon outdoor hot tub is really too large to be practical during the winter months and suggested that any future design should be a bit smaller.
Councilor John Ferguson agreed. “I would like to demolish the whole thing and and start from scratch,” he said. “Right now huge sections are not being used.”
Ferguson added that he would like to see the pool renovation project taken on as a whole, rather than continuing with the piecemeal approach that has been the city’s default method of dealing with pool problems as they come up over the years. “The pool should be a priority, but I think the bathhouse has to be completely redone, too,” he said. “It’s a shame we put $174,000 into it and it’s still what it is. It could be a lot better.”
City staff met last week with a financial advisor to discuss funding options for the overhaul. The project may require financing through a bond, Rondinelli said.
Budget Season Upon City Council
Representatives from San Miguel and Ouray Counties Juvenile Diversion and Second Chance Humane Society made presentations to council on Monday night, hoping to win allocations in the City of Ouray’s 2013 budget.
Wendy Crank, the new director of Juvenile Diversion, introduced herself to council and reviewed her organization’s role serving the youth of Ouray and San Miguel Counties. SCHS executive director Kelly Goodin briefed council on the many changes that have occurred in her organization over the past year since SCHS’s animal shelter moved from a small cramped space in the Town of Ridgway to a much larger space at Angel Ridge Ranch.
Council was supportive of both organizations and promised to include them in upcoming budget discussions.
Good News and More Good News From OCRA
Ouray Chamber Resort Association Director Kat Papenbrock briefed council on the exciting news that Ouray will host Rural Philanthropy Days next June, bringing about 350 people to town during a historically slow time of year, and also announced that she has been selected to chair Region 10’s Committee for Economic Development.
PARC Members May Split Mission
Councilman Richard Kersen, who is liaison to the City of Ouray’s Parks and Recreation Committee (PARC), reported that that committee is discussing the possibility of splitting into two separate groups.
One would be focused on recreation, and the other on park development and maintenance. PARC is also working on a budget proposal for council’s consideration as the 2013 budget season approaches.
Water Tank on Tap
The City of Ouray’s newly constructed second water tank is almost up and running.
City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli reported that the tank was treated with a high dose of chlorine to create a super chlorinated solution for disinfection purposes. The chlorine levels were expected to dissipate naturally, but have not done so because of cool temperatures over the past week.
The city will therefore have to add chemicals to the water to bring the chlorine levels back down before the system can be flushed and brought online by Friday.
New Public Works Director Coming Soon
Rondinelli added he expects to announce the hiring of a new Public Works Director later this week. Former Public Works Director Dan Fossey left the city’s employ last summer and now works for the Ouray County Road and Bridge Department.
EagleNet Brings Broadband to Town
Ouray is getting a new fiber optic line courtesy of EagleNet, which through a federally funded grant is providing broadband connectivity to every school district in Colorado. Work on the line began this week.
Rondinelli reported that the hook-up should be operational at the school by end of this calendar year. Other entities besides the school may tie into the line at their own expense. The city crew has been working along with the contractor to do necessary line locates. Staff reported that two previously unknown water and sewer lines have already been struck.