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Rifle Metro Pool comes in under budget

City may continue reservation system post-pandemic

The Rifle Metro Pool finished its first season on Labor Day.
Moss Photography

After the Rifle Metro Pool’s first season of use, parks and recreation director Tom Whitmore is just about ready to say the project is complete.

“Virtually our project’s complete. We had our last bill from the general contractor,” he said.

The approved budget for the project was a little more than $8 million, and the final cost was $6.8 million.

The bulk of that — nearly $6 million — was paid to FCI Construction, about $92,000 less than the contract’s maximum guaranteed payment. 

The budget included contingency funds that were not needed, leaving $1.2 million in city accounts.

“[I thank] council for being so realistic and being able to put the funds together to make sure there was a contingency we could work with if we ran into problems,” he said. “It allowed us to make timely decisions on things with our timeline with the pool.”

Unexpected issues

Whitmore said that the fact that the contingency funds were not needed doesn’t mean there weren’t issues to deal with during construction.

“We did have change orders, and we did have to add things to the project,” he said.

One was having to install helical piers, or foundation pins, to counter soil movement.

“You can’t spend that kind of money on a municipal project and then have it move around and tilt and crack and break pipes,” Whitmore said.

Crews ended up making enhancements at the bath house as well due to plumbing issues. That required tearing up and retiling the floors.

Other unexpected work included replacing pipe under the catch pool for the slide, upgrading the slide drain and increasing the amount of rebar in the concrete slabs.

Further expansion of the pool is still a possibility. 

If the economy is going well, the city could add in more slides and the lazy river, features that showed up in what Whitmore called the concept images but which had to be removed to keep costs down.

Reservation system

A necessity of COVID may change pool operations post-pandemic. Whitmore said that pool use was limited to 75 people in one hour, 45 minute sessions. There were four sessions per day.

“90% of our sessions were booked at 100% sold out,” Whitmore said.

The schedule allowed for various activities, including lap swim, water walking and toddler time.

Whitmore said that the pool deck capacity is 500 people, but that would have been too crowded.

“Everybody who came felt like they had space, and the customer service experience was better for them,” he said.

He said people learned to appreciate the time limit as well.

“I think what people found out was it’s a long time to be in the sun, the heat and the water. It really worked out well for families. After an hour and 45 minutes they were ready to leave anyway,” Whitmore said.

Because of its popularity, Rifle is considering retaining the capacity-based reservation system into the future.

“We’re not overcrowding the pool, we’re not overcrowding the parking lot, and it’s really kind of an exclusive experience,” Whitmore said.

The capacity per session would be higher than what is mandated for COVID, probably up to 175 people, Whitmore said.

“We may start the season with 100 [people] and go up by 25 and see how everything works,” he said.

Thanks

In addition to thanking council for having the foresight to provide contingency funds, Whitmore also named a few local contractors who he said were “highly motivated to do an excellent job,” including Rodco Concrete, Walker Electric and Tally Ho Construction.

He also wanted to thank the citizens of Rifle.

“They’re the ones who committed the funds to get this done, so they deserve the biggest thank-you,” he said.

More financial details

Whitmore said that there are a few punch list items left to be completed at the pool, but the work is mostly complete.

The same could be said for the project’s finances: They’re mostly wrapped up, but there are still a few details as well as a long-term debt to repay.

“We’re not quite 100% sure what our loan payments are going to be. … We think it’s going to be about $300,000 [annually] or a little bit less to make the payments on the pool,” Whitmore said. 

Whitmore said the term for the loan is 20 years. He said he was confident the city might be able to pay it off sooner than that if the economy does well.

While those payments won’t keep Whitmore up at night, he is looking forward to receiving grant money promised to the pool project from GoCo and the county Federal Mineral Lease District.

“I will finally rest when we get our grant checks,” he said.

cwertheim@citizentelegram.com


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