Back in the pool for Mesa commissioners

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Swimmers use the Orchard Mesa Community Pool earlier this summer. After a meeting Wednesday with Grand Junction city officials, Mesa County commissioners agreed, in the words of one, “to renew the partnership” with the city in paying for maintenance and improvement of the pool. Mesa County has not provided any funds this year or last, interrupting an agreement that dates to 1982.



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CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Swimmers use the Orchard Mesa Community Pool earlier this summer. After a meeting Wednesday with Grand Junction city officials, Mesa County commissioners agreed, in the words of one, “to renew the partnership” with the city in paying for maintenance and improvement of the pool. Mesa County has not provided any funds this year or last, interrupting an agreement that dates to 1982.

Funding for the Orchard Mesa Community Pool is set to become a split venture once again for the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County.

Grand Junction City Council members and Mesa County commissioners met Wednesday afternoon to discuss pool funding, among other topics. The two paid half of all pool costs except for School District 51-funded electric bills until 2011, when the county began decreasing its contributions due to budget constraints. Then-Mesa County Administrator Chantal Unfug sent a letter to the city in February 2012 stating the county would prefer to end the memorandum of understanding created in 1982 that ordered the city and county to split pool expenses. The county has not paid anything for the pool in 2012 or 2013.

Commissioners in recent weeks have argued that management of a pool is more of a city duty. Last week, commissioners agreed they could pay half for the pool if, in return, they get more say in how funding decisions for the pool are made. The pool is getting $326,021 worth of capital project money injected into plaster and deck replacement work and a locker room renovation this year, for example, based on city decision-making.

“Our board wishes to renew the partnership ... with one caveat: that the county have an equal voice in spending decisions associated with the pool,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca told councilors.

Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras said that should be fine and suggested County Administrator Tom Fisher and City Manager Rich Englehart work out the details of re-entering a funding agreement.

Commissioners and councilors did not decide whether a new agreement would be needed or if the county would pay retroactively for its share of pool costs. The county’s share for 2013 is estimated by the city to be $251,884 if paid for the entire year, then $88,473 in 2014 and $163,473 in 2015.



COMMENTS

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It is nice that County commissioners have decided to uphold their end of an agreement entered into 30 years ago. Maybe had previous commissioners taken an interest in the pool and its needs there could have been more involvement than deciding not to honor their part of the agreement.

Like any other entity, there are costs associated with upkeep and renovation.  Hopefully the county can help pursue sources for a rec center that would help alleviate a missing part of a community and county the size of Grand Junction and Mesa county?

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