Basalt swimmers

Basalt residents Julie Hall and daughter Magnolia Hall, 4, enjoy a little splash time in the Basalt Pool on Thursday afternoon.

It’s leaps and bounds easier to get a reservation right now for a lap lane or family time at the Basalt Pool than during the beginning of June.

“We were the only game in town on June 3,” the town’s recreation director, Brian Passenti, said this week. He reflected how demand was huge for a public hungry for a local respite two months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were seeing lap swimmers from Glenwood Springs to Aspen,” Passenti said, adding that demand was so high he even started recommending that swimmers try the recreation center in Gypsum as an alternative.

In the first three weeks the pool at Arbaney Park has been open for the summer season — under new COVID-19 guidelines in the public areas, dressing rooms, pool deck and pool — there have been about 400 lap-swim reservations and 300 family reservations, Passenti said.

That’s eased a tad since the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool opened June 10, public pools in Aspen and Snowmass Village opened mid-month and Carbondale’s pool opened Tuesday, he added.

“We are still booked,” he said, adding that swimmers have grown accustomed to reserving time for their recreation. A maximum of 35 people are allowed on site at one time. Reservations are open only one week in advance; every day another day opens up for rentals.

Reservations may be made online and the cost is $10 for a household or family reservation. At the door it’s $2 per participant on top of the family household reservation fee. The family swim is offered in two-hour blocks.

Lap swimming costs $3 and reservations are for a one-hour block. No concessions are available. Visit basalt.net/268/Basalt-Pool-Schedule for more information.

Decision on Bastille Day

The planning of pool improvements was underway before the pandemic. The effort has now resumed, and the public comment period for project’s first phase has been extended until July 14 — which several Basalt Town Council members noted was Bastille Day (France’s national holiday to mark the “Storming of the Bastille” in July 1789).

Also on July 14, town council will consider a resolution to set the initial phasing plan for the Arbaney Pool Project. That will give the Basalt Parks, Open Space and Trails Committee time to open another meeting to accept additional public comment.

An objection from citizen Toni Kronberg prompted the extension of the comment period, councilmembers were told during Tuesday night’s meeting. Since 2013, POST has identified the pool as a “high priority” project.

The pool also was tagged as producing the most amount of greenhouse-gas emissions of any town-owned facility, according to a 2017 report. Reducing the effects in a cost-effective manner is one goal of the pool re-do.

In 2019, Connect One Design was hired to prepare conceptual plans and bid documents. In the town’s 2020 capital improvements plan, some $625,000 was identified for the waterline and pool plaster project, according to the resolution.

Connect One design has been evaluating the pool and park facilities for more than a year and is preparing conceptual plans and documents for bids at the July 14 meeting.

To date, the public hasn’t been shy in weighing in about improvements on the Town's “Let's Talk Basalt” community engagement tool.

Planning Director Susan Philp told town councilmembers (except Elyse Hottel, who recused herself) on Tuesday night in a discussion about the pool project’s initial phasing, “We’ve had a good response from users,” with 58 surveys received through “software” and “two through email.”

The first phase of improvements to the Arbaney Park pool aren’t fancy or flashy and include a refresh of the 25-year-old blue paint in the locker rooms, the addition of photovoltaic to the changing room roof and conversion of the snack bar to family changing rooms. Vending machines are proposed as a replacement, though Philp said, “We did hear from people about this,” suggesting it was not universally well-liked.

Other upgrades for this year include a more efficient boiler system. Improvements continued with a phased approach through at least 2022. Highlighting the second phase is a robot-shaped kiddie pool.

The decision this week to allow an additional public meeting was a way to cure a “deficiency” of an inadequate amount of noticing, Town Attorney Jeff Conklin suggested. That will allow POST a chance to ratify the previous motion with proper notice. The council agreed.

Madeleine Osberger is a Contributing Editor for Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99