The Orchard Mesa Community Center Pool is barely afloat

Orchard Mesa Pool

Guest blog post by Mariann Taigman, co-founder of the Save the Pool Committee, and Nick Allan of Orchard Mesa United

Three different agencies—the school district, the city, and the county—are involved in managing the Orchard Mesa Community Center Pool (OMCCP).

Prior to 2020, a Pool Board was created that was comprised of one official from each of these entities to discuss the pool at joint meetings. In 2020, the pool board convened to discuss the pool’s future, including the possibility of demolition, marking the last “official” meeting of the Pool Board before it dissolved. In response, the Save The Pool Committee emerged as a grassroots effort, championed by concerned community

Kids and adults enjoying the OM Pool

members passionate about keeping the OMCCP operational.  During that final Pool Board meeting, the Save The Pool Committee presented proof to the three entities that the community wanted the pool to remain open.  Our efforts included: obtaining 7,000 online petition signatures and 1,000 paper signatures; collecting over 70 letters from school children; encouraged community engagement by distributing flyers as to the fate of the OMCCP, and having groups of community members speak at city council meetings.

Two years later, in 2022, the governing bodies revisited the idea of closing the OMCCP once again, prompting renewed community outcry. In response, the City of Grand Junction committed to keeping the pool open and past the creation of the new Community Recreation Center (CRC). This commitment was highlighted in the city’s feasibility study, the Orchard Mesa Pool Facility Renovation-Final Report.
A quote in the final report stated:

“The Grand Junction City Council has committed to keeping the existing Orchard Mesa Pool open and operational through October of 2026.”

This was also reiterated by Mayor Pro Tem Abe Herman in a Facebook response regarding the pool’s fate:

“The Grand Junction City Council has committed to keeping the existing Orchard Mesa Pool open and operational through October of 2026.”

Kid having tons of fun at the OM pool. The facility may face closure by the city.

When the three entities reconvened on January 22nd, 2024, the situation became murky once again. The school district expressed its unwillingness to continue funding its portion of the pool ($77,089 a year), stating that they are “not in the pool business.” Instead, they offered to transfer ownership of the OMCCP, the gym and the land to the City of Grand Junction.

The Save The Pool Committee agrees that the city should accept this offer. Meanwhile, the county reaffirmed its readiness to contribute $800,000, with the money going towards funding the maintenance or demolition. This leaves the final decision to the city.

With the District and county making their positions clear, the city now faces the imperative task of taking ownership of the pool to uphold its promise. The Save The Pool Committee views this as non-negotiable.

The OMCCP presents significant opportunities, as outlined in the Orchard Mesa Recreation Facility Plan. The Save the Pool Committee endorses option three, involving pool and gym renovations, estimated to cost between $12.5 and $13.5 million. With the potential for increased visitation and the pressing issues of mental, emotional, and physical health concerns in our valley, closing the facility would pose a threat to our community’s health.

Maintaining the OMCCP and gym is crucial for local families, many of whom rely on its accessibility. The pool’s closure would impose logistical challenges for families and limit access, especially for those without transportation. Additionally, the existing facility offers more economically viable options compared to the proposed CRC. The surrounding development in the Las Colonias area further emphasizes the OMCCP’s potential as a valuable asset for attracting investment and promoting local growth.

In light of these considerations, the city’s acceptance of offers from the other two entities is essential to fulfill its commitment to the community of keeping the pool open. Collaboration with community members and the Save The Pool Committee is vital to implementing the recommended plan outlined in the Orchard Mesa Recreation Facility Plan.

Upon the city’s acceptance of the pool, immediate action should be taken to convene a good faith discussion and devise a plan for revitalizing the Orchard Mesa Community Center Pool and Gym. The Save The Pool Committee insists on being part of those actions for improved transparency. With our ever-growing community, we can support multiple recreational spaces, and be environmentally conscious by renovating an already existing structure. Please join us at our rally this coming Saturday, 12:30 PM at Eagle Rim Park to show your support!

  6 comments for “The Orchard Mesa Community Center Pool is barely afloat

  1. The commitment and passion that the Save the OM Pool Commitee have shown, should make the City, Council, and District wake up to the need and finally address it. These folks have been working on this so long only to get muddled and vague responses from all entities. It is an enrichment to our community that all ages enjoy! Time to get on board!

  2. I have spoken and written about all the reasons for keeping and enhancing the pool and gym. It is interesting, I just listened again to a podcast regarding Orchard Mesa where the Mayor and head of the Business Incubator were guests. Mayor Stout refers to OM as having a different culture, a different mentality, a different pace of life than that of the city center. Maybe that’s how she feels about the residents in this area, but that’s not how many of the people I know in this community feel. At the end of the podcast she says the plan for the future of OM would be to prioritise all things that contribute to quality of life. I would think keeping and enhancing an already existing gym and pool would do just that. It is such backwards thinking to do anything less.
    The podcast is under Conversations at KAFM
    “Crucial Questions- Orchard Mesa” ( Jan 5, 2024)

  3. I work in the school district and get to witness firsthand the excitement my elementary students have when they get to go swimming at the Orchard Mesa Pool. The benefits of keeping the pool open far outweigh the costs of maintaining and the idea of closing the pool. You can’t put a price on what the Orchard Mesa Pool gives back to our community. Maintaining and keeping the pool open should be non-negotiable. The city needs to do the right thing for our community.

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