Council engaged in a lengthy discussion and public hearing regarding the allocation of $500,000 in the City’s 2021-22 CIP plan to fund rehab of the swimming pool at the community center. Council voted to approve funding of $500,000 for the community pool rehab, in the expectation of obtaining additional funding to undertake the $1.1 million project.
After the pool was closed in 2014 due to structural issues, it sat in limbo until two years ago, when Freeport McMoRan provided funds to hire an engineering company to test the pool to determine whether it could be repaired. The report indicated the concrete was sound and the pool could be rehabbed. The City began to work with a structural consultant at that time, but the effort was hampered by the pandemic. For the past two years the City has been looking at putting $500,000 on the table toward refurbishment of the pool. The structural consultant has said that the pool could be rehabbed at a cost of $1.1 million, and this would be a 20+-year fix.
Globe City Manager Paul Jepson explained that Council’s choice whether to put that $500,000 on the table would show potential partners that the City is committed to the project. This would give a clear indication to the community and to possible partners of the direction the City is going.
Linda Oddonetto, Globe’s’ Economic Development Director, noted that the City is in the process of applying for a grant for the pool and has submitted a letter of intent to Freeport McMoRan in hopes of receiving community investment funds. The City has also identified six potential grant opportunities that would make it possible for the City to reopen the pool by next May.
Citizens speak up
The following comments are excerpts from the public comment period. You can watch the full comments online by viewing the meeting on June 22nd which can be found on YouTube/CityofGlobe.
Evelyn Vargas, Chair of the Cobre Valley Regional Aquatic Center, was the first to speak on behalf of the aquatic center. Vargas noted that the City is going to invest more than $1 million for the community pool rehab, which she said will give the community “no baby pool, maybe a splash pad, no regulation lap lanes, no slide, no diving board, no zero entry, at a cost of $120,000 per year for operations.” She pointed out that the aquatic center will have zero entry, eight competition lap lanes, a diving board, a baby pool, and two slides.
Vargas asked, “Where are the kids going to be? At the community center or at the aquatic center? Where are the elderly going to be? The community center, where they can’t get in? Or the aquatic center where they have zero entry? How long will the City keep the community pool running when they have zero volume? Now Globe is in a situation where they have spent a million dollars for a pool that will be empty again.”
Vargas said, “Tonight, each one of you has the opportunity to turn that one million dollar investment into two million through the generous donation of Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center with their challenge grant funds. That is $2 million towards a $6 million facility that would support the entire population and take us into the future for the next 25 years. A facility that would override a standard pool that no one will be attending when the aquatic facility is built.”
Vargas said, “One of the comments I’ve heard was about our swim teams. They indicated that it is not about the length of the pool but rather about the fun and camaraderie.” Vargas urged Council to consider the difference in the competitive experience for members of swim teams.
Vargas said as an athlete herself, she practiced to compete, not for fun. She added, “Some other swim teams do not want to come to Globe because of non-regulation lanes, the shallow ends of the pool [preventing flip turns], and lack of proper deck equipment for competition. Our swimmers are driving to other facilities where competition times count. It’s not just for fun.”
“I appreciated the easy let down on April 27th regarding funding for both pools. But I’m here tonight to say the CVRMC aquatic board [efforts] are not folding, because it is what is best for all and not just for some.”
Sherry Dorathy said, “The future will come and we need to do what is best for all of our community.” She said in 30 years of living in Globe, she and her kids rarely used the community pool because of the distance to get there. She advocated for an aquatic center that is more centrally located.
Carolyn Larsen spoke in favor of the community pool, noting her concerns regarding the aquatic center, including the increase in property taxes and the challenge of still having to secure the funds needed to build the facility. She also expressed concern about leaving the community pool as an abandoned facility
Larsen said the aquatic center construction “will take years, and we need a pool now.”
Zach Larsen spoke in favor of the community pool, noting that it had been abandoned and boarded up for six years. The aquatic center project, he felt, would be complicated, costly, and challenging. “It will take time, a long time,” he said. “Getting the aquatic facility going, you could be passing up generations of kids who will graduate without having a pool.”
Adrea France, a local realtor, spoke about a housing division her family is planning behind the community center, where 80+ families may someday live. France said, “The community center will be a huge asset to the families that live in that. … I’m not here to snuff out the aquatic center, but to support the community center.”
Speaking on behalf of Copper City Youth Sports, Joe Barajas acknowledged the need for an aquatic center but argued on behalf of the community pool, saying, “We could have generations of kids not knowing how to swim if we don’t take care of the ‘now’ need.”
Baras went on to explain that this summer his athletes are practicing in the Cobre Valley Rec Center pool, which limits the number of kids they can accommodate. Instead of the 60 kids they normally have in the program, this summer they have 20. He said, “When you take 20 kids, and you used to have 60, well, there are 40 kids out there that are saying ‘I’m not interested.’”
He ended by telling the Council, “The use of your funds will be better served for a community pool.”
Kara Satter, a swim team mom and swim coach, wrote in an email that she was “excited about the possibility of Globe having a working pool again … and soon.” She wrote, “We can’t sustain a swimming program without kids being able to be in the water.”
Rose Dalmolin explained in an email that as a resident of Globe for nearly 15 years, she is raising four kids here, ages 1 to 13, and all are sixth generation Globe residents. As a member of the board of Copper Cities Youth Sports, she has witnessed each year as the swim team season hangs in the balance, waiting to find out whether or not they will have a facility to use.
Dalmolin wrote, “It is unacceptable in a community of our size to not have at least one properly functioning community pool. … The importance of having something that is tangible and definite far outweighs the dream of having something new and better.”
Leitha Griffin asked Council to consider financially supporting the aquatic center and requested that all available funds be directed to the aquatic center. She noted a conversation with one elderly resident who asked her if Globe could ever have something as nice as the aquatic center in Florence. She said that comment stuck with her.
She concluded her remarks by saying she hoped Council would see the importance of providing “something new, something modern, and something that everyone can enjoy. I see the opportunity to create something that isn’t just for the children and able-bodied adults but something each of your constituents can enjoy no matter their age or capabilities.
Instead of investing in something that we’ve had in the past, I ask you to invest in something we thought we could never have. And I ask that you invest in an accessible, enjoyable community hub like the Cobre Valley Aquatic Center and … show community members that we do deserve nice things.”
Deborah Yerkovich spoke in support of the aquatic center, saying, “Let’s pool our resources and focus on the larger, more encompassing facility of an aquatic center. … Keep the community center as a splash pad. If there is a grant opportunity for the community pool, then that would be wonderful, but make a commitment towards a larger regional facility.”
Richard Kreuger, a youth sports coach for 20 years, said, “These kids deserve to swim next year. … Our kids deserve it now, not eight, ten years down the road.”
Daily Flores, a lifetime resident, said, “I think we can say as a community that we all support having a pool … I think it’s great that we would have the community center back up and running, but I’d hate for us to lose sight of the opportunity for an aquatic center that would service a greater portion of our population as well as be more of a community, local resource for everyone. I can see the sentiment is to have a pool sooner than later, which I absolutely agree with. I’d love to see that sooner than later.
I guess I just challenge the City Council to not lose sight of committing to an aquatic center and having that as a goal. … Please look at the big picture and the future of an aquatic center is exactly what our community deserves, and I hope that we can commit to that.”
Kathy Jensen said, “We are all wanting the same thing. We want a pool for our kids and for our community.” Jensen said she moved to Globe in 1988 and immediately noticed the lack of parks and recreation and was concerned about that. Her kids did have the community pool but she said she has always hoped for more and better facilities for her kids, grandkids, and parents to use.
“Although I totally understand the ‘let’s hurry and let’s do it as fast as we can,’ at the same time, I feel like we’re setting the bar low for our kids, and why not set it up high for the kids in Globe Miami just like the kids anywhere else?”
Barry Schwenk, head coach for varsity soccer at Globe High School and head coach of the Piranhas swim club, said that although he appreciates the work that Evelyn Vargas and the entire aquatic center committee has put into the project, he noted that, dishearteningly, very little progress has been made. He argued that funding the community pool would meet some immediate needs.
However, he said, by doing this “we will fail to take an opportunity to do something more than the minimum. … The unmet needs will remain and will continue to exist for future councils to consider.”
Schwenk noted that the rehabbed community pool would not meet the community’s needs. He argued that the city needs a facility that responds to the community’s current needs, including facilities for a high school swim team, a summer swim club, regular swim lessons, physical therapy options, senior programs, zero entry options, and family entertainment.
At the conclusion of public comment, Public Works Director John Angulo suggested using field #5 at the community center (the large baseball field in the back) for the aquatic center.
“It’s way too long to not do something.” –Public Works Director John Angulo
During Council discussion, Council member Mariano Gonzalez advocated that we “take care of business today” as well as planning for the future.
Council member Jesse Leetham referred to the high cost of the aquatic center and the difficulty of funding it. He urged Council to provide a facility that will be available for the community now.
“The community center has been a pillar in this community and has been built on for decades.” –Council member Freddy Rios
Council member Freddy Rios asked the Council to consider the generation of young children who need a place to play now, but argued that it’s not a choice between one or the other – people should not think in those terms. He said the community center pool is not a band-aid, it’s a generational solution.
“I don’t believe that a yes vote to the Globe pool is a no vote to the aquatic center.” –Council member Freddy Rios
Council member Fernando Shipley criticized the lack of transparency about where the remaining funds for the community pool might come from. He advocated that if Council is serious about rehabbing the pool, they should commit to finding the full funds for it internally. He also backed the suggestion of building an aquatic center in phases. He suggested raising the City’s pool budget to $1.1 million and committing to finding those funds with or without partners.
Council member Mike Stapleton expressed gratitude to Evelyn Vargas for the committee’s work on the aquatic center. He spoke in favor of rehabbing the community center pool and also working toward the aquatic center.
Mayor Al Gameros said his concern is time – how long will it take to build the aquatic center, given that the land, CIP, and O&M commitment are not yet in place. Addressing Evelyn Vargas’s concern that the community pool might be empty after the aquatic center is built, Gameros argued that the community can support more than one pool, because in years past there were five facilities and they were all full. He said economic development takes time, and Globe is not yet at the level of Florence and Coolidge to be able to build an aquatic center similar to theirs. Mayor Gameros said the messages he’s received from residents are all asking to have something by next year.
“We need something now for our kids. We cannot wait three years. We cannot wait five years down the road. We get our community center and then we shoot for an aquatic center in the future.” –Mayor Al Gameros
Neil Jensen, CVRMC, pointed out the need to invest in the community in order to draw and retain people here. He suggested building a facility that would cost much less than the aquatic center but have most of what the aquatic center would offer.
“If we want people to come to our community, we need to invest in our community.” –Neil Jensen, CVRMC
Leethem made the motion to approve allocation of $500,000 in the FY2021-22 to rehabbing the community pool. The motion passed unanimously, with Gonzales explaining that the Council is not closing the door to the aquatic center, and Shipley stipulating that the City should be at the table henceforth in discussions on the aquatic center. Mayor Gameros explained that he’s heard a lot that people want something now and also that we need to push forward on the aquatic center.
Shipley, Leetham, and Gonzales volunteered to meet with the aquatic center committee.
See Part 2: Capital Improvements and Spending Priorities from June 22nd meeting.
See Part 1: Fire and Flood Mitigation
Full minutes can be found by going to the City Hall website at https://www.globeaz.gov/government and clicking on Agendas/Minutes in the bottom left-hand corner.
The Globe City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall. The meetings are currently open to the public at 25% capacity. Members of the public are requested to wear a mask when entering and exiting the Council chambers. Seating is limited to allow for social distancing.
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Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She is currently traveling long-term and researching a book on dance. You can follow her writing on the website medium.com, under the pen name SK Camille.