A rendering of the potential multi-generational pool. Courtesy Image
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
A multi-generational pool at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center is one of the projects included in the Los Alamos recreation bond. If voters pass the bond, the pool would offer features for infants to senior citizens to enjoy.
While all the features are conceptual at this point, Community Services Director Brian Brogan said typical characteristics for these pools include zero depth entry, water slides and lazy rivers. Also, water temperatures would run higher than in a conventional pool, around 83-84 degrees.
The total probable cost for construction of the multi-generational pool is $8,684,000. The total annual probable cost for operations at the new pool is $426,000. The money for the project would come from a $20 million general obligation bond that voters will decide whether or not to approve in May.
The special election will be mail-in ballots that will be mailed out on May 2 and the County Clerk must receive them by 7 p.m. May 23. If voters approve the bond, Council anticipates utilizing up to $13.4 million of Capital Improvement Project funds in order to supplement the bond proceeds toward the construction of the five recreational improvements.
The other projects include a recreation center, softball field improvements, a splash pad and improvements to the golf course.
The multi-generational pool is not a new concept; Los Alamos has tossed the idea around for years.
Public Works Director Philo Shelton said more than 20 years ago, $140,00 in donations were raised for a kiddie pool. That money has sat in the bank, waiting for the project to reach fruition. “It’s one of those projects that have been on the books a long time,” Shelton said.
Originally when the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center was built, Aquatic Center Subcommittee Member Shelby Redondo said, it was going to have a leisure pool but the County decided to cut it to save money. Instead, the therapy pool was constructed, she said.
In 2011, voters were asked in a special mail-in election whether or not a leisure pool should be added to the center but it was voted down.
The problem is the current large pool is designed for competitive team swimming, Redondo said; it’s depth and water temperature are perfect for it; in fact, the Japanese Olympic swim team once used the aquatic center for high-altitude training. However, the pool is not really designed for very young or first-time swimmers, Redondo said. As a result, she said toddler-aged swimmers are taken to the therapy pool where a table is rigged in the water to help them out.
“It’s inappropriate using the therapy pool to teach swimming,” Redondo said.
Plus, it seems a growing number of children do not know how to swim, which can lead to safety concerns if they ever go into the water, she said. Also, learning to swim can inspire a life-long love.
“I just wish our community would support it. It’s so important; it’s a life long health commitment. Once you learn to swim and you enjoy it, it’s a life-long love,” she said.
The multi-generational pool is also a way to keep people and their money in town.
“A lot of families, young families, they want their kids to have a fun experience swimming so they go to Santa Fe (to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center). So we’re not keeping our income in town,” Redondo said.
If the new pool were built, she pointed out, it would also attract outside communities such as the Pueblos or Valley residents to come up to Los Alamos. Plus, if Los Alamos is hosting other sporting events, athletes and their families may be looking for other things to do in town and a multi-generational pool would be a good option for them, Redondo said.
“I think by having the multi-generational pool, it will actually increase revenue,” she said.
The aquatic center already has a healthy draw. According to Brogan, last year, the number of people entering the center totaled 159,440. Of this total, 80,018 were swimmers, 5,190 were individuals registered for swimming lessons or private lessons and 74,232 came as spectators or to register for an event or do rentals at the counter.