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In his report to the Truth or Consequences (T-or-C) Parks and Recreation Advisory Board October 7, municipal swimming pool manager Kyle Blacklock said the facility’s winter enclosure had been deemed unsafe, and therefore would not be assembled this year. He explained how a state inspector found problems with water penetrating electrical components and how he and city manager Morris Madrid subsequently agreed to forego assembly of the inflatable structure.

As this decision will leave the swimming pool exposed to the elements this winter, Blacklock said the facility would be closed. With this noted, he said current plans were to keep the pool open until December 1. If this goal is achieved, he said staff will then evaluate weather forecasts and consider keeping the pool open into December if possible. In the interim, Blacklock said efforts are underway to examine options for the future. While telling board members this included alternative enclosure designs and construction approaches, Blacklock said consideration is also being given toward development of an entirely new pool and recreational complex.

Weight toward this latter option was added as the pool manager continued to outline present facility needs and concerns. With the winter enclosure now out of the picture, Blacklock acknowledged concerns about the pool’s cover, confirming it is now over ten years old and in poor condition. He further reported the discovery of several leaks in the pool that bode costly repairs, and said the facility’s heater is still in need of replacement.

Before moving ahead on the agenda, board member Ingo Hoeppner urged Blacklock and city leaders involved with the effort to consider solar options in addressing the pool’s heating concerns. He emphasized the potential cost-savings solar alternatives might provide, while at the same time fulfilling the facility’s needs and permitting the city to promote the pool as being environmentally-friendly.

RALPH EDWARDS PARK With the city commission also endorsing a proposed renovation plan for Ralph Edwards Park earlier this summer, parks and recreation department manager O.J. Hechler has since been proceeding towards an initial development phase.

During the October 7 session, he shared plans with the board outlining phase-one construction, which would primarily focus on installation of a new irrigation system throughout the park.

To ensure the new irrigation system will properly serve the facility’s green spaces, Hechler said the initial phase would first involve the removal and replacement of sidewalks and other concrete areas. This effort would also include significant grading to lessen slopes and expand useable greenspaces, as well as the repositioning of prominent features (such as the horseshoe pits) and other areas to coordinate with the already approved design.

Key among the proposed changes will be the installation of concrete bollards and other measures to prohibit vehicle traffic within the park.

While sympathetic to what has become a customary practice of driving vehicles on to the park’s greenspaces for a variety of events, Hechler has consistently emphasized the park’s new irrigation system and future beautification will require tight controls on all vehicle traffic. Board members concurred with the recreation department manager on this point, agreeing any future vehicle traffic within the park must be strictly controlled.

With city leaders’ approval, Hechler indicated the phase-one park renovation plan could move toward contractor acquisition in the coming weeks. Once this is accomplished, board members were told he would be aiming to complete phase-one in time to ready the park for Fiesta 2020 and other events already crowding the calendar.

OTHER REPORTS AND ITEMS

•Hechler also provided board members with a list of projects his department is planning to focus on over the coming winter months. Included on the year-end agenda will be replacement of fencing for the Louis Armijo Sports Complex A-Field, painting of dugouts and the installation of new bleachers. After realizing positive responses from B-Field upgrades, Hechler said efforts would also be made to apply the same infield surface mix on both the T-Ball and A-Fields.

•During public comment, board secretary Carole Wheeler relayed concerns about dying trees in the Ralph Edwards Park area that were shared with her by a community member. Hechler acknowledged some of the parks trees were truly in need of proper trimming and attention. In this regard, he said consideration was being given to contracting a landscaping firm to address these concerns.

•Hoeppner said he had been in communication with local resident Clifford Humphrey, who was a key figure in development of the first national Earth Day celebration. Noting that 2020 will mark Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, Hoeppner suggested the board may want to consider supporting coordination of a celebration to honor the milestone. In this regard, he said he had invited Humphrey to participate in the board’s next regular meeting, in hopes of furthering discussion about ideas and options.

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