by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
[updated 25 August 2015]
The public comment period will be brief. At an August 20th Apex Park & Recreation District board meeting, the board was given a quick overview of what a replacement for the Fisher Pool might look like. The board is planning to give the public an opportunity for feedback at its next meeting scheduled for September 3rd at 6:30 pm. The board is then planning to formally approve its bond package concept at its following meeting scheduled for September 17th.
Included in the package will be a pool that looks smaller than Fisher used to be and [a] rec center at Fitzmorris Park adjacent to Fitzmorris elementary school. Also included in the package will be five other city-wide bond projects for public recreation. Here’s the list with each facilities’ estimated cost:
Arvada Tennis Center, $5.5 million
Long Lake Ranch, parking, light additions, $4.3 million
Lutz Field, renovation/reconfiguration, $4.3 million
Fitzmorris site center/pool, $4.8 million
Secrest site center, $7.8 million
Apex Center – renovation, splash pad addition, $1.5 million
These amounts are tentative estimates figured by the architectural firm of Barker Rinker Seacat, who often does construction estimates for the recreation district. The list totals to $28.3 million, and Apex hopes to take the whole package to the voters in May of next year.
The amount expected to be raised from a bond renewal is only $25.0 million, leaving a $3.3 million shortfall. The current plan is for the Apex board to ask the Arvada City Council to use the $3.1 million it has set aside in their budget to replace the Fisher pool to be given instead to Apex to be used to cover the budget shortfall.
Apex, in turn, would cover the annual operational deficit that the Fitzmorris Center is expected to carry, since, even with user fees, it will not make a profit for the district. This is different than an earlier proposal by the Arvada City Manager that, if Apex would build the facility, the City could, in exchange, escrow the $3.1 million and use it to cover the operating deficit of a Fitzmorris recreation center.
The estimated cost to build the Fitzmorris Center is a bit surprising in a couple of different ways: The cost was more than an earlier estimate of $3.2 million to $4.0 million for the project. But that estimate seems to have been based upon the cost of a similar private facility built for the Candelas subdivision in west Arvada.
And the cost was also surprisingly low for a Fisher Pool replacement. Nine years ago, Apex went to the voters asking to bond a $6.9 million replacement for that pool that would not have included a recreation center, but would have included a 50-meter pool, aquatics play area and teen action slides. No other issues were on the ballot; and, although it passed locally, the district-wide vote was 55% against the proposal.
But the proposed Fitzmorris Center would have an attached, year-round fee-based recreation facility that the previous bond proposal did not have. Outgoing Apex Executive Director Mike Miles said that the non-pool recreational elements were included to help make the facility more self-sustaining in its future operational expenses. The land in the Fitzmorris proposal would be provided for free by the City without a cost to the recreation district.
Apex hopes to go to the voters to renew its expiring bonds in May of 2016, but a delay to November of 2016 is still possible. The bond renewal will not be on this year’s November ballot.
If the proposal passes in May, a Fitzmorris rec center and outdoor pool may not be completed before the end of the 2017 summer season because of the needed lead time for planning, design and construction. That would mean a pool opening in early 2018 – 10 years after the old Fisher Pool was pulled out in 2008 and 13 years after it was shut down in 2005.
WHAT IS ACTUALLY IN THE CONCEPT PLAN?
That’s a little vague at this point. The August 20th presentation plan drawing included an outdoor pool with six straight lap lanes, a shallow pool option and a recreation facility that included a weights-and-fitness room, and a separate aerobics studio. This is just an 8500 square foot concept design. It was not clear whether the pool would have a deep end with diving board facilities as the old Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park did.
From the concept, it also looks like the school will be getting a larger parking lot than it has now.
The photos of the meeting’s projection-screen images in this report were taken with a hand-held pocket camera that had a lot of lint caught in its lens. Hopefully, better quality imagery will be available to the public before the board gives its formal approval to the plan on September 17th.
PUBLIC INPUT AND CITY REACTION
Executive Director Mike Miles plans to give a half-hour PowerPoint presentation on all six proposed district facilities at its September 3rd meeting. The PowerPoint presentation will not be available to the public beforehand, so you really have to attend and pay attention if you want to comment at that meeting. Otherwise, your only opportunity to comment may be on September 17th when the board takes formal action.
Mr Miles said that, since the site is a City of Arvada park, Apex would be relying on the City to hold public meetings on the impact on the school and the local neighborhoods around Fitzmorris. City Parks director, Gordon Reusink, who was not at the meeting, later said that the City would coordinate future public meetings on the project with Apex. Mr Reusink also said that the City’s ongoing discussions with the school district were still being held at the staff-to-staff level. Nor has Apex’s cost-sharing proposal yet been scheduled for a discussion with the full City Council.
Just as a personal observation: the summer traffic generated by the outdoor pool should not be more than when the school is in session. The site approaches already have a good array of speed humps and stop signs to encourage traffic calming near the school. And, considering how much traffic and parking demand Ralston Central Park has generated on Garrison and Brooks Drive since it reopened, the overall effects on the larger neighborhood could well be very positive. However, the effects of traffic generated by the attached recreation facility during school hours are a little harder to predict since the neighborhood experiences high peaks when school starts and lets out each weekday.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
At this point, talking to an Apex Board of Directors member or an Arvada City Council member seems like the best option for getting more information. However, Director Whitfield was not present at this last meeting and may not be as well informed as the other Apex directors.
[Update: Director Jim Whitfield has provided quality images of the six recreation proposals on his own website at
Retiring Apex Executive Director Mike Miles should still be available through the plan’s approval phase. No Arvada City Council members were present at the August 20th meeting, nor were any Arvada City Staff members. City Councilors Fifer and Allard (both At Large members) are the City’s official representatives to the Apex board.
The CLRC neighborhood association has covered the issue of a replacement for the Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park (aka the North Jeffco Pool) since the organization was formed in 2010. Here are links to the most recent articles we’ve published:
And, as always, the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
August 22, 2015