OURAY BRIEFS | Ouray Wades Into Pool Improvement Project
by By Samantha Wright
Feb 21, 2013 | 1278 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

OURAY – The City of Ouray will soon be cutting a check for up to $20,000 to the Grand Junction-based engineering firm SGM to gather and crunch data about the Ouray Hot Springs Pool’s hot springs delivery system.

SGM, a highly regarded firm in the geothermal field, will be tasked with quantifying the amount of water currently available, and the amount needed, to maintain desired temperatures at the pool, which currently fluctuate greatly in the winter months.

The million-gallon pool dates back to the 1920s, and has many infrastructure issues which must be addressed.

A council-appointed Pool Capital Improvement Committee comprised of a diverse group of community members has been meeting weekly since early November to envision and prioritize the scope of needed improvements.

The committee has determined that its top priority, before any “sexy” details such as pool and bathhouse redesign can be considered, is to achieve consistently warm water temperatures in all seasons.

Hot spring water is delivered to the pool via an antiquated pipeline system that taps into several geothermal springs in Box Canyon. This collection and delivery system was partially upgraded in 2010, but much work remains to be done.

Council held a work session with the Pool Capital Improvement Committee on Tuesday evening, Feb. 19, where committee members made a pitch to invest money in the proposed SGM engineering study. Several councilors initially balked at the expenditure, wondering if the study was really necessary since the city has already compiled much data on its own and has invested in engineering plans to replace the long stretch of pipeline from Box Canyon to the pool.

They argued that the money for the new engineering study would be better spent on initiating this pipeline replacement project, which has been on the back burner for several years.

In the end, however, pool committee members successfully argued that the project properly belongs in the hands of a professional engineering group which can assemble and make sense of the patchwork of existing data and plans, and develop a comprehensive proposal for how to move forward with pool infrastructure improvements.

“It’s a small price to pay to get information that we need,” Councilor John Ferguson stated.

Money for the engineering study will come from funds the city had already budgeted toward the Hot Springs Pool for 2013. The funds were going to be used for filtration equipment and engineering work that won’t be fully implemented this year.


Among the action items at Tuesday’s council meeting was consideration of an emergency ordinance declaring a temporary moratorium banning private clubs for the consumption of marijuana in the City of Ouray. Many municipalities across Colorado have elected to enforce such a moratorium due to a loophole in Amendment 64 which would allow marijuana clubs to set up shop before the state legislature has finalized regulations on commercial marijuana enterprises.

City staff and legal counsel had recommended that the moratorium be adopted as an “emergency ordinance,” so that it could go into effect immediately rather than following regular rules for public notice.

After some spirited discussion, council moved 4-1 to adopt the moratorium, but without the “emergency” provision. Councilor John Ferguson was opposed, stating, “I think this is being fueled on paranoia, and is not based on reality.”


Council unanimously approved an “above average” performance evaluation for City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli. Rondinelli earned an overall performance rating of 3.57 out of a total possible score of 5.

The performance evaluation was broken down into about a dozen different categories. Rondinelli earned his highest scores in categories regarding budget oversight, job organization, integrity, communication and intergovernmental relationships.  

“This was a challenging year for the City and Patrick, but he has done a good job overall with a limited budget and a large amount of responsibilities,” the evaluation concluded.

Council opted not to award any merit-based salary increases this year. However, following a council-initiated compensation review for all city employees this past fall, Rondinelli and most other city employees had their salary range adjusted upward by 3.7 percent.  


Final paperwork is underway to move towards closing the city’s purchase

of water rights to the Red Mountain Ditch. Rondinelli informed council that the city’s public works staff will begin eight week’s worth of work to rehabilitate the ditch as soon as weather permits in the late spring.

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