Mega, Pool Park Expansion Plans in GMF Receive Warm Response

Miniature Golf Course, Sculpture Garden and Fitness/Health Center Part of the Mix

Rick Langenberg

Ambitious plans for a multi-million-dollar pool park and a major capital improvement bid in downtown Green Mountain Falls, capped by a spree of potential top-rate amenities never imagined before, got unveiled last week at a community forum.

The reaction: Complete awe as residents learned of the prospects of a vastly enhanced park, featuring a possible miniature golf course, a sculpture garden, fitness and health center, musical swings, a bar/lounge area, outdoor stage, an obstacle course, a museum, a welcome hub, hot tubs and top-of-the line aqua perks, dog parks, trails and more. In fact, if some residents had their druthers, the project would begin tomorrow.

“It is very exciting to see,” said GMF Trustee Don Walker, following the presentation of four possible design schemes for the park and a much-expanded pool area, compiled by a group of University of Colorado students.

Planning commission member Rocco Blasi agreed and stated that the late Dick Bratton, regarded as a community icon and local trails legend, would have been thrilled to see the vision for the expanded pool park. “He would have been ‘tickled pink,’” said Blasi.

The project is definitely not lacking in ideas with a variety of proposed amenities presented.  The design plans presented at the forum had a rough project cost, ranging between about $1.5 million and $4 million.

Project leaders cautioned that the process is just beginning, and no final proposals have reached the final stage. “It is very early in the process,” said Jeffrey Wood, technical assistance coordinator for the Colorado Center for Community Development at CU. “In terms of the life of the project, we are just on the second square.”

The plans are part of a project undertaken by the University of Technical Assistance Program of Colorado University.  Last week marked the second community forum for the “re-imagining of the pool park.”  It comes in the wake of a pool park survey, completed by nearly 200 residents, and an earlier meeting in January.

The next scheduled meeting, expected within the next few months, will narrow the pool park final design scenarios down to the top two.

The main driving funding impetus for the project is a future $1 million-plus gift committed by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, with a project completion date of 2026, and with the hope of garnering additional support from the state Department of Local Affairs and Great Outdoors Colorado. Jesse Stroope, the chairman of GMF’s parks, recreation and trails subcommittee, who also serves as a leading representative for the Kirkpatrick group and the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, outlined the funding process last week, via Zoom.

Despite the spree of ambitious funding pursuits, no changes are slated for the swimming pool itself.  In fact, aqua facilities are usually not funded by the state, according to Wood.

The design plans got an A-plus review, with most residents and civic leaders only questioning certain technical aspects of the proposals. Forum participants lauded the work of the CU students.

At the same time, a volley of questions circulated about the costs and the next steps for the project.

Not so Fast

“What is the cost of the project? Where does the money come from?” questioned long-time resident and former trustee Mac Pitrone, who is often a leading critic of many of the capital improvement ventures for the Green Box Arts group and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. “What is the cost to maintain it?”

In addition, he raised concerns about the impacts for adjoining residents, noting that not much activity has occurred in the past at the pool site, a scenario that would definitely change if the proposed pool park expansion project moved forward. Plus, he reiterated that pool projects are not financial winners. “There is not a swimming pool anywhere that makes money,” noted Pitrone, who actually played a big role in building the current swimming pool facility.

Stroope outlined the gift commitment of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and agreed that an overall business plan would have to be developed. He stated that the project would hopefully attract additional grants to help fund the venture.

As far as resident concerns, Stroope said they have taken many efforts to involve the public through a variety of meetings and open forums. Mayor Todd Dixon cautioned that ultimately the trustees would have the final say on whether the town should proceed with the project.

Some of the ideas presented last week definitely captured the flavor of a complete “re-imagining of the pool park.” One idea that caught community members by surprise involved plans for a nine-hole miniature golf course and a sculpture garden. In fact, these two ventures could get combined, based on one scenario. “Green Mountain Falls has such a history of art,” said Wood.

Probably the most elaborate plan involved the development of 7,400-square-foot community center, with a health club, jacuzzi and pool terrace area, outdoor stage, event-rental areas and two dog parks.

Besides the concerns raised by Pitrone, some of the forum participants raised questions about parking and prioritizing the wish list.

For example, Blasi noted that if the choice comes down to proceeding with a pickleball court or dog park, the project proponents should go with the first option due to the current availability of many current trails for dog owners.

One fact remains certain: If the project does move forward, then the pool will probably remain closed for the summer when the construction occurs.  This could occur in 2026 or maybe even in 2025.

The final design plans for the pool park are expected to be displayed during the forthcoming Green Box Arts festival.