County should dive back into pool deal

The discussion this week by the Mesa County commissioners, indicating they’re willing to reconsider their predecessors’ decision to halt county participation in and funding for the Orchard Mesa Community Center Pool, is welcome indeed.

Furthermore, the fact that the commissioners may want to play a more significant role in decisions related to operational costs of the pool is hardly outlandish.

The county and the city of Grand Junction, as well as other municipalities in the county, have worked together on a number of cooperative projects that involved at least some shared oversight.

As was noted in The Daily Sentinel earlier this month, the previous county commissioners decided they no longer wanted to be involved in the 30-year-old partnership that includes the city and School District 51 for operation of the pool. They announced they were making their final payment last year with very little notice to or discussion with the other participants. And that’s a poor way to conduct public business.

Additionally, it’s worth restating what former Grand Junction City Councilor and Mayor Reford Theobold stated on these pages a few days ago. It was the county commissioners who asked the city to join them in a partnership 30 years ago to build and operate the Orchard Mesa Pool, and not the other way around.

The county wanted the pool built on Orchard Mesa to partially fulfill a promise made to residents of that area when voters approved a sales-tax measure for the county.

As we said before, there’s nothing wrong with re-examining a three-decades-old agreement, so long as it’s done with involvement of the other entities and the public.

To their credit, the current commissioners are taking another look at the previous board’s decision in a much more transparent fashion and have discussed possible actions they might take in conjunction with the city to make the Orchard Mesa pool more self-supporting. A joint meeting of the commissioners and City Council to discuss the issue is scheduled for next Wednesday.

We appreciate the commissioners’ willingness to take another look at the county’s involvement in this community facility, as well as the fact that, in doing so, all three of them are hewing to their fiscally conservative principles. They are not saying they are willing to throw unlimited amounts of money at the pool without any oversight of its operations, and that’s entirely appropriate.

We hope the commissioners and the City Council are able to reach an accord — along with the school district — that will keep the pool operating effectively and serving the community for another 30 years, at least.


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