The City of Grand Junction, Mesa County, and School District 51 provided an update at the publicly noticed meeting of the Board of Mesa County Commissioners on December 20, 2022, regarding negotiations related to Orchard Mesa Pool (OMP). Negotiators on behalf of the three entities had reached an initial agreement on November 28 to work collaboratively and amicably to resolve the issue of continued operations of the pool, and that any statement issued thenceforth would be jointly authored. While intended to be shared with media and members of the public at the Dec. 20 meeting, no media attended so a statement regarding the agreement was shared and approved in an email later that day and then read at the Grand Junction City Council meeting on Dec. 21, 2022. It stated that negotiations were continuing to define the roles and responsibilities of each party in an effort to keep the pool open under certain terms for a defined period of time. In that statement, the group committed to “provide further updates as those negotiations advance and as our respective entities consider options on moving forward.”
All three entities recognize the importance of indoor aquatics, and as such, the City has proposed a scenario that keeps the Orchard Mesa Pool open while the city continues to work on building a community recreation center with a top-of-the-line aquatics facility. At that point, the city would no longer operate the Orchard Mesa Pool which would allow the School District as the owner to contract with another entity, or absent an outside operator, for the three entities to jointly share in the closure of the pool.
The Orchard Mesa Pool has been operated under multiple agreements since its construction in 1982. Although the most recent agreement expired in 2019, the city has continued operating the pool with the school district owning the building and the property and paying utilities, and the county contributing to operational costs.
The city has performed required and routine maintenance of the pool while being responsible for its operation. What has been referred to as “deferred maintenance” is actually the full replacement of major systems, equipment and parts such as the HVAC, mechanical, and filtration systems that are at the end of their useful life after 40 years. Routine maintenance of the boiler that recently failed, has included multiple repairs and even full replacement over the past 40 years, and is an example of the challenges of upkeep for equipment that is no longer being manufactured.
All three parties have agreed that the cost required to bring the outdated facility back to baseline is not good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The facility is currently providing services to approx. 100 people per day; 50% of whom are city residents. Additionally, there is agreement that the financial burden of operations and significant repair/replacement of 40-year-old systems should not be shouldered by any one partner.
October – School District staff indicates to City staff that contribution of a portion of the $2.4 million in renovations is unlikelyOctober 31 – At meeting between School District and City, D51 conveys “best and final” offer to transfer the land and the facility to the City without any financial contributionNov. 1 – School District offers City additional land Nov. 2 – City Council Holds Executive SessionNov. 28 – Negotiators from three entities meet to discuss options for OMPDec. 8 – Communications representatives from each organization meet to draft collaborative release/letterDec. 12 – Draft collaborative release/letter shared with all three entities for review and inputDec. 15 – Discussion develops from proposal to keep pool open and shared roles and responsibilities are outlined; collaborative release draft set aside Dec. 16 – Conversations between City, County and School District negotiators regarding new proposalDec. 19 – School District Holds Executive Session to discuss options for OMPDec. 20 – County Holds Publicly-Noticed Meeting about OMP-Verbal update was to be made about keeping pool open for defined period of time (proposed written statement shared in email at 3:37 pm with County/School District)Dec. 21 – City Council meeting, OMP on Agenda, Mayor Stout read approved joint statement summarizing what was to be shared verbally at the County meeting held the previous day on Dec. 20, followed by public comment