Rifle Metro Pool faces $225,000 fix after lightning strike

City foregoes bid process to conduct repairs sooner than later

The Rifle Metro Pool in Rifle on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Rifle Metro Pool received a hefty bill after a lightning strike in late July caused significant damages to its electrical and pump system.

To fix it in time for next season’s opening day, Rifle City Council last week unanimously approved to bypass the bid process and appropriate $225,000 for an equipment purchase and repairs. R and R Aquatics of Westminster is providing the services. 

Rifle Parks and Recreation Director Austin Rickstrew said if the city were to pursue bids, it would delay the process of getting the pump fixed in a timely fashion.

“Pools are very specialized,” Rickstrew said. “There’s not very many, but (the bid request) would go nationwide, so we could get someone from across the country to do it. I like (R and R) being in (Westminster) because if we have an issue that starts up, they could be here the next day if we needed them, in theory.”

The purchase request triggered discussion over whether the damages will eventually be covered by insurance.

Rifle is insured through the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), a municipal self-insurance pool used by public entities across the state.

The day after July’s lightning strike at Rifle Metro Pool, the city had an electrical engineer and electricians come on-site to assess equipment damages, Rickstrew said. There, they determined a pool contractor was needed and R and R showed up the next day.

Meanwhile, CIRSA sent out a forensic electrical engineer of its own to conduct a separate damage evaluation, which will later be compared to Rifle’s assessments. 

Rickstrew said, however, that CIRSA has yet to review the city’s insurance claim and that the entity does not directly pay contractors. Instead, Rifle must pay the contractor first and, if deemed eligible for coverage, will be compensated by CIRSA.

“Contrary to popular belief, that stuff is not a gray area,” City Council Member Joe Carpenter said. “It’s either covered or it’s not… That’s pretty silly for CIRSA to look at something like that.”

There were still plenty of people swimming in Rifle Metro Pool on July 31, the day of the strike. With noticeable inclement weather and dark clouds toward the west, pool staff successfully evacuated the area of patrons before the electrical storm came to hover above the water.

Frozen footage taken from the Rifle Police Department of the lightning strike at the Rifle Metro Pool on July 31.
City of Rifle/Courtesy

It was then that lightning struck, and the electric current sent shock waves toward the pump house. The Rifle Metro Pool, an $8 million renovation of the city’s former Art Dague Pool, has been closed to the public since that day.

“I don’t love the idea of a sole source,” City Council Member Sean Strode said. “But this is the right fit with timing.”

R and R will provide labor, travel expenses and equipment. Rickstrew said there could be more damaged equipment the city doesn’t know about but that he’s confident R and R has already pinpointed all the issues.

“Their goal is to get everything up and running before May,” he said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.