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Community Pool or Aquatic Center pose No easy answers.
The pool at the country club struggled with maintenance issues this summer which caused several closures. Photo by LCGross

Community Pool or Aquatic Center pose No easy answers.

A swimming pool is generally the most popular and populated recreation site in a community during the summer, so what happens when one local option has permanently closed and the other two are failing? According to several area leaders, it is time to think regional.

“The time has come where we need to approach new projects and ideas as a region (because) it has become extremely difficult to get funding standing alone, especially in rural communities,” Globe Mayor Al Gameros said. “We are a stronger force when we collaborate and work together.”

The Globe Community Center drained its pool for the last time about four years ago, and since then, there has been a movement to build a larger, improved project like a centrally-located community center complete with a pool and water park, along with ball fields, a community center and library. This is why the Cobre Valley Regional Aquatic Center Committee was formed.

There are two working pools in the area. One is at the Cobre Valley Country Club, and the other is in Downtown Miami. Both, however, are too small to meet the needs of the community since the closing of the Globe pool at the Community Center several years ago.

The Aquatic Center Committee attempted to have a senate bill passed last year to create a revitalization tax district that included the county, the municipalities of Globe and Miami and their two school districts. The bill (SB 1416) passed the state Senate but died because it was never assigned to the agenda for the House.

The Committee learned a few lessons from its experience last year and are taking a run at passing a similar bill this year. A question arose over the past few months about the viability of either repairing the Globe Community Center Pool or building the new pool over the footprint of the old one there.

To answer some of the questions, the Globe Miami Times acquired a copy of the 2014 request for proposal and needs assessment prepared by Architekton and Aqua Designs International, which was commissioned by the city of Globe.

Globe Community Center Pool Study

In the late 1950s, community leaders and volunteers built a pool on property donated by the Hagen family next to what is known as Besh ba Gowah. The materials were donated by local businesses and individuals with contractors and volunteers donating much of the labor.

According to the report, the pool had problems almost from the beginning of its existence. The circulation gutter leaked from the start, and sometime in the 1980s, the pipes below the pool began to fail. That problem was fixed by placing pipes in the bottom of the existing pool and pouring concrete over them, creating a new floor but also reducing the depth of the pool.

There were also problems with the baby pool – leaking pipes and a faulty gutter system – which forced the city to close it down about seven year ago.

Chris Collopy, director of development service and Human Resources, said the leaks in the gutter system caused massive leakages that were more than the water usage of three households – about 12,000 gallons/month. There was further damage to the structure of the pool from leaks running through the pump room that corroded the metal support beams holding up the pump room roof.

All of the leakage caused a sort of “percolation,” according to the engineer report, that eroded the soil beneath the pool, creating voids that further compromised the structure of the pool shell.

The writers of the report also noted that there was likely water making its way from the pool into the creek below the community center, and the extent of the erosion to the sub surface could only be known by core drilling into the floor of the pool and performing a geotechnical investigation.

All of the information contained in the report was obtained through visual inspection, through as-built information and through interviews with city staff and people who were involved in the construction in the ‘50s, according to the report. (To see all of the code violations, download the report from the city of Globe’s Web site. It is called Globe Community Center Swimming Pool Condition Assessment Report.)

To correct all of the listed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, as well as repair and replace sections to increase functionality and safety with the existing structure, it would cost the city of Globe almost $900,000. The annual cost to run the pool and maintain it would be about $342,000.

To completely replace the pool, it would cost the city of Globe about $1.3 million, according to the report. The addition of a children’s splash pad would be about $80,000, and a timing/score apparatus would cost about $45,000.

Aquatic Center Committee

Many local residents have verbally supported the formation of a Revitalization Tax District to pay for maintenance and operations of an aquatic center. The tax district would include the county, the municipalities of Globe and Miami and their two school districts, but some are not inclined to believe the support will be there when voters go to the polls.

Fred Barcon, local businessman and vice president of IDA (Industrial Development Authority) board, said, “I do not believe the issue will ever become a reality. I was involved in two issues involving our community college to pass a secondary tax and a provisional tax. No one is against taking care of our youth; no one is against providing entertainment for our children. No one is against higher education until they get in a voting booth and the curtain is closed behind them.

“We are being heavily taxed; let’s concentrate our efforts on what we have and can do,” he said.  

A “Revitalization Tax District,” as the law currently reads, is a district formed between two municipalities and/or tribal government.  One of the changes that would be included in the new bill would be the word “county.”

“The city and town borders of Globe and Miami are not straight or evenly defined lines and are intermixed with county areas,” Evelyn Vargas, president of the Aquatic Center Committee said.  “In order for the ‘Revitalization Tax District’ to work for our area, we need to look at a well-defined region, which will be the primary market for the aquatic center.  The aquatic center committee defined the area, or the taxable district, as the region which encompasses the Globe and Miami school districts.  Within this region, there are many county areas.”

The Globe Public Pool has sat empty for several years leaving just the Miami Pool and Country Club pools available to the public. The City and regional stake holders say the numbers no longer support an effort to simply tear out the old pool and put in a new one in the same location. The Miami Pool (not shown) is expected to have a few more years of use before it too has to be retired. Photo by LCGross

Barcon said he thinks more time and effort should be devoted to the rehabilitation of the pool at the community center. Globe City Manager Paul Jepson thinks the location is too “Globe” and not centrally located enough to encourage regional participation.

The Aquatic Center is working with BHP Billiton to secure 18 acres just north of Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center, between Vonnie’s Pizza and Judy’s Cookhouse, south of Hwy. 60.  The aquatic center would be located out of the flood plain on the northwest part of the property. A proposed plan for the remaining acreage would be for a community center (located out of the flood plain), amphitheater, athletic fields, walking/biking path, and other amenities.

“The Globe pool is out of reach location-wise for many people in the area,” he said. M&O for the pool is also not in the budget priorities for the city in the upcoming years.

Then there is the potential expectation because of its location that the city would foot the bill for maintenance and operations should the proposed nonprofit no longer be operational.

“Globe, Miami or the county cannot afford to pay the annual operations and management expenses of the Aquatic Center,” Gameros said. “That is why the aquatic committee is seeking a change in the Legislature to create a taxation district that will allow the taxes to come from all three entities.”

The Globe mayor also believe the proposed location for the Aquatic Center is more feasible because of its size. “Having a community pool that can be expanded offers entertainment and quality of life for all ages for our residents,” he said.

Vargas said the benefits of an aquatic center are abundant. “The impact would be felt throughout many areas of our community and across our age continuum,” she said.

It would also influence the education, economy, recreation, employment recruitment and retention, health and wellness, athletic competition and many other social aspects of this community, she said. “It will cost each of us financially in tax dollars, but if we want to make a positive difference in the well-being of the Globe-Miami community, we will make the commitment.”

The Aquatic Center Committee’s priority between now and when the state Legislature reconvenes is to finalize the language of the new bill, get it on the agendas for both the Senate and the House and then reach out to the community for support. “We have been investigating the reasons it (SB 1416) failed, identifying the entities on whom it would have the greatest impact,” Vargas said. “We are currently reaching out to those entities to work in partnership to create a bill that is viable and beneficial to all.”

If the Revitalization Tax District is revised and passes the Senate and the House, it will be up to the voters of the newly formed district to decide if they will pay a “property levy to support the maintenance and operations of an aquatic center,” Vargas said.

Vargas said the committee would be happy to give presentations to any group or organization interested in more information. Call Evelyn Vargas at 928-812-9267 or Bryan Seppala at 928-812-0098.

About Aimee Staten

Aimee Staten
Aimee Staten has worn several hats over the last few years, but she recently put on one of her more familiar caps after four years of working in nonprofits: That of a journalist. She has 14 years of experience in the news business as a reporter with eight of those years as the managing editor of the Eastern Arizona Courier.

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