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The City Council voted this week to keep Bicentennial Pool closed for the summer as the city assesses what repairs are needed.

Santa Fe's only outdoor pool will remain closed for the summer as the city conducts a full assessment of needed repairs at the 45-year-old Bicentennial Pool. 

In May, city officials said the Alto Street pool was leaking about 130,000 gallons of water a month and needed a number of repairs. The City Council had to decide whether to open the pool after making minor repairs or keep it closed until all repairs could be completed. 

Bicentennial Pool is one of four city-owned pools and usually opens around Memorial Day. 

The City Council on Wednesday night voted to keep the pool closed, with Councilor Signe Lindell voting "a most reluctant yes." 

"This is such a tough vote," Lindell said. "We don't have a pool in this city for kids to splash around in this summer. It has just been such a painful vote for me to support. Kids are supposed to be in a pool splashing around and playing with each other." 

Some of the repairs have been completed, reducing the leak by about 20 percent, Public Works Director Regina Wheeler said.

But city officials have yet to test that estimate. Wheeler said she believes the city could safely reopen the pool now. 

According to a city memo, major repairs to the pool's gutters, along with a slew of minor repairs, are needed. The pool has not undergone a major renovation since it opened, and it is unclear how much the larger repairs will cost the city. 

Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler said she would like the city to conduct a cost analysis to determine whether it makes more sense to build a new pool instead of putting more money into Bicentennial Pool. 

Some city councilors have noted that the south side does not have a city-owned pool. 

Councilor Jamie Cassutt said opening the pool was not environmentally responsible and supported keeping the pool closed until the fixes could be made. 

Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth agreed, saying the city should set the tone for businesses and the public. 

"From a water policy stance," Romero-Wirth said, "I think we should lead by example by our water use."

Mayor Alan Webber asked if staff had reached out to private pool providers in the area about the possibility of using their pools for the summer. Acting Recreation Director Gino Rinaldi said he was optimistic about partnership opportunities. 

Community Health and Safety Director Kyra Ochoa said staff had reached out to Santa Fe Community College and Casa Solana. 

A nationwide shortage of lifeguards is also a concern, Rinaldi said. 

Ochoa said the city only has the staffing to open three pools, and opening Bicentennial would have forced the closure of one of the other city-owned pools. 

The pools at Salvador Perez Recreation Center, Fort Marcy Recreation Complex and Genoveva Chavez Community Center are open to the public on a reservation basis. 

(9) comments

Emily Koyama

Better to put the funds towards a new INDOOR pool that can be used year-round, and also not lose thousands of gallons a week to evaporation.

Stefanie Beninato

Some of these comments show a lack of knowledge....The Bicentennial pool is only opened during the summer. Only Chavez was opened last summer (mid july) due to COVID restrictions. The city offers free lifeguard training without having the trainees make a commitment to work for the city. I know of at least two women who are being trained now who are going to apply at private pools. The city needs to pay lifeguards competitively. And when you cut parks staff from 18 to 6 and pay private security to cruise around parks instead of rehiring for those park positions we get poorly maintained parks with a false sense of security.

Cathryn Miller

Management of our City pools has been abysmal the last few years. Salvador Perez and Fort Marcy were closed at the same time, creating a severe pool shortage. Bicentennial could have been repaired last summer. The kiddie pool at Chavez is closed now.

There would be life guards available if the City ran a Red Cross Training at the beginning of May when kids come home from college. A few years ago I took a life guard training at the Community College during May with a group of extremely responsible high school and college students who all had jobs lined up for the summer. This is what swim venues across the country do! Hiding behind a “national shortage” is an excuse, not a reason.

Dave Vigil

Was at ragle park last Saturday where there were hundreds of people from 8am to 8pm. No working restrooms trash cans over flowing. 4 porta potties. How ridiculous this city is. It’s shameful. The worst baseball parks in the state. Oh was down town the other day saw city workers cleaning up boy does it look nice!!! Way to go WEBER!!!!

Elise Fagan

Perhaps solicit input from the top national pool repair firms. Advancements in materials and technology might offer a cost effective and near term solution.

Dan Frazier

Bicentennial Pool has been closed all winter, and, probably, much of 2020 because of the pandemic. Now, when it is hot and everybody wants to swim, the pool is suddenly closed for repairs! How much more incompetent can a city be? There is no shortage of lifeguards. Just like there is no shortage of police officers. What there is is a shortage of common sense and a bunch of tight-fisted, short-sighted, incompetent city officials who refuse to spend the money to take care of taxpayer-funded facilities and raise wages in order to hire the staff those facilities require. Anybody but Webber!

Don Ric

"Some city councilors have noted that the south side does not have a city-owned pool."

Is Genoveva Chavez no longer considered to be on the south side? I'm not saying the area is fully served - far from it - but if reported accurately, this kind of rhetoric isn't particularly constructive.

LeRoy Sanchez

The Chavez Center kiddie pool has been closed for a long time. So sad for young families!

Stefanie Beninato

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