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.