Turnout was good at afternoon and evening meetings about the new plans held on Tuesday, said Ken Sherbenou, executive director of the Montrose Recreation District.
“We had about a hundred people between the two meetings and did an exit survey like in August,” Sherbenou said.
The exit surveys Tuesday showed that 93 percent agreed that Montrose needed a new rec center, after they saw a presentation of potential ideas for the building layout and the amenities it would include that were based on community surveys going back to 2005, he said. Financial and operational plans were developed by GreenPlay, and the architectural consultant is Barker Rinker Seacat of Durango, which has designed rec centers all over the state, Sherbenou said, including those in Cortez and Durango, and part of the rec center in Gunnison.
The next public meetings, when the Rec District will present final plans for the new center, will be held on Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. and at 6 p.m. To learn more, call the Rec District at 970/249-7705.
This isn’t the first effort to build a new community center or expand the existing Montrose Aquatic Center, but the new plan has new options, Sherbenou said.
A plan to build a new facility was pulled from the ballot in 2006, and then a couple of years later, a ballot measure to expand the Aquatic Center failed to pass.
The new plans may or not need voter input, depending on how financing is constructed. The plans call, for example, for doing away with the indoor pool at the Aquatic Center and creating an indoor sports field instead.
The outdoor pool at the Aquatic Center would remain unchanged, but the new facility would have two indoor pools that would include, according to a Rec Center press release, a “leisure pool with lazy river, zero depth entry, spa and slides, a cooler water eight-lane lap pool, and (a) games room.”
The lazy river would be like the virtual pools advertised on TV, where you swim against a current, which can be varied, Sherbenou said. Zero depth entry means entering the pool would be via sloping ramp, instead of underwater steps.
The greatest expense in running the Aquatic Center is the indoor pool, Sherbenou said, and freeing up those funds could help in financing the new building.
“One of the real important things when contemplating a facility is if there is going to a gap between revenue and operation costs,” he said. “In cost recovery, revenues (are) divided by expense(s); the higher the better, and the less support we need from taxpayers. We are projecting an 82 percent cost recovery, which is three times what we are currently recovering in costs (at the Aquatic Center).”
Sherbenou, who was not with the Rec District when previous efforts failed, said he and members of the Rec District task force have been talking to as many community groups as possible, pitching the idea for a new rec center and discussing the current Rec District financial structure.
“At the meetings we’ve been emphasizing that we are putting 25 percent of our existing budget into capital reserves, and that along with resources that would be freed up to subsidize the current indoor lap pool, those resources could be used for a new facility.”
Just where a new facility would be located is still undecided, but Sherbenou said the Aquatic Center and the new rec center would complement each other.
“The new center takes into account what is at the existing facility and there would not be an outdoor pool or multipurpose rooms at the new facility,” he said. “Our administrative space would be smaller because most are at the current facility.”
Plans for the possible new rec center call for it to be 70,155 square feet, in a building that would house an elevated indoor walking/jogging track, a multi-court gym, fitness area and weight room, aerobics studio and a child watch area, as well as the leisure and lap pools.
Converting the indoor pool Aquatic Center into space for sports would facilitate more sports during the winter, Sherbenou said, such as soccer, lacrosse and volleyball, and the new pools at the new rec center would give people a better swimming experience.
“The leisure pool is one of the biggest trends in public recreation, and one reason why the rec center is ‘come one, come all,’” he said. “Older adults can get water exercise that is low resistance, which helps them move and be more mobile, or you can turn up the resistance, and with warmer water you can exercise and get a good workout.”
The pool will also be good for younger kids, who want the thrill of quicker moving water, he said, and will solve the dilemma of how to accommodate different age groups since there would be two different pools.