The Salida Hot Springs Pool is the largest indoor hot springs facility in the country. Our water is gathered from an underground spring eight miles up the road, high in the Rocky Mountains. From there, it is piped directly to our pools through insulated pipeline, delivering fresh hot water continually. This sparkling clear, odorless water was originally enjoyed by the area’s first inhabitants, the Ute Indians. We now respect and enjoy this water for its natural refreshing and warming qualities.
The City of Salida Recreation Department has been considering a plan to update and renovate the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center and Centennial Park over the last year. Most recently the Centennial Park Master Plan process was presented at a public meeting April 3rd. Public participation and comments were taken.
City staff has spent the last year analyzing public comments, reports and findings regarding the Centennial Park Master Plan as it was presented last January. The purpose of this meeting was to share those findings, propose new ideas, and answer questions from the community. If there are additional comments or questions about the plan please contact Theresa Casey: Theresa.Casey@CityofSalida.com
Over the course of the last 15 months, a City-commissioned Feasibility Study was completed in order to determine overall operating expenses and revenues associated with implementing the Centennial Park Master Plan. An energy assessment of the Salida Hot Spring Aquatic Center was also completed in February.
The study reviewed current conditions of the pool and Centennial Park; examined projected construction costs and financing options; measured in-flow of hot springs water for proposed outdoor amenities; and created a projected operating budget.
The review of current conditions showed that many of the current pool operating systems are old and inefficient and that the building envelop has many areas for improvement to control moisture and help reduce energy consumption. The feasibility study recommended the energy audit.
The current master plan costs are estimated to be between $3,000,000 and $6,000,000 for construction. It is likely that costs will be closer to the upper end of the estimates based on community facility standards.
The feasibility study looked at several financing options for construction. Those options included: a voter approved mill levy increase (property tax increase), a voter approved sales tax increase, Certificates of Participation (COP) and bonding for improvements by increasing the 2B Occupancy Tax to its approved maximum. In discussions with City Council, staff and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board it was determined the current financial climate would not be conducive to raising property tax or sales tax and that raising the current 2B Occupational Lodging Tax may be the most viable option should it be decided to move forward with implementation of the plan.
The 2B Occupational Lodging Tax was approved by voters in 2008 for a maximum rate of $4.82 per room per night. However, City Council has opted to collect only $2.50 per room per night since instituting the tax. Use of these funds is limited to capital improvements and operations expenses for parks and recreation and arts facilities in the City, including the Aquatic Center and the SteamPlant Theater.
The current pool operation utilizes 74gpm of hot water from the Poncha Hot Springs source; with an additional 70gpm of hot water being diverted (without use) back to the river. It was determined that the current flow of hot water could heat the new pool and spa features, however some supplemental heating may be necessary to maintain a comfortable environment year-round. Some of the outdoor features could be all natural, without any chemicals added, while tot pools and lazy river pools would need to be sanitized.
To determine projected operating budgets, the Salida pool facility was compared to both the Ouray Hot Springs and Old Town Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, both publically owned facilities. Both Ouray and Old Town’s pools operate at or above a 100% cost recovery of operating expenses. The feasibility study showed that the City of Salida could expect to continue to subsidize the pool operation at its existing level even with the expanded pool operations and necessary staffing increases, while maintaining the current resident prices. However, it was noted that with increased marketing and increased non-resident fees the subsidy could be greatly reduced.
Both Ouray and Old Town are located on major highways and are visible from the road. Ouray registers 130,000 visitors per year while Old Town registers 70,000 visitors. Salida has room for growth, our visitor numbers are approximately 47,000 per year. To meet the goals for the full expansion our numbers would have to increase by 58,000 visits.
The feasibility study outlined three approaches the City might take to implement capital improvements to the Salida Hot Springs Pool and Centennial Park; take on the 2012 plan as is, develop a reduced plan based on estimated bonding capacity from 2B funds, or make small incremental improvements over time.
Through discussions with City Council, the Recreation Advisory Board and staff, it was determined to proceed with the Energy Assessment and a reduced Centennial Park Master Plan.
Findings from the energy assessment were presented to City Council at their regular evening meeting on April 2 at 6:00p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the Touber Building, 448 E. 1st Street. The reduced scope master plan was presented for comment at a public meeting April 3 at the Salida SteamPlant.