Home Local & In-Depth Windcrest: Proposed bond would create multimillion-dollar aquatics center

Windcrest: Proposed bond would create multimillion-dollar aquatics center

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WINDCREST — The city is hoping voters approve a $4.9 million bond during the Nov. 2 election to build an aquatics center to replace its existing swimming pool.

The council also has spent part of the summer discussing a final, long-range strategic plan, and the town’s first parks and recreation plan.

The council unanimously voted Aug. 5 to call the bond election. If supported by the electorate, the city looks to develop a splash pad alongside an enclosed, climate-controlled pool operating year-round.

Windcrest initially closed its decades-old public pool at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has kept the facility shuttered for repairs and because of safety issues.

City engineers estimate fixing and improving the existing pool, even with a splash pad, could cost $2.03 million.

A vacant tract at Jim Seal and Crestway drives, across from Takas Park, would be ideal for an aquatics complex, according to local officials. The city is also eyeing part of that property to develop a potential public off-leash dog park, a first for Windcrest.

Councilman Wes Manning agreed the area would be suitable for a new pool with additional amenities.

“We’ve got a whole concept going on over there as a recreational park,” he said. “If this pool lasts 50 years, it’ll be a benefit to the city of Windcrest.”

Bond consultants say the city would need to raise Windcrest’s current 8.61-cent interest-and-sinking tax rate by 3 cents to fund the bond for a new pool. The I&S rate, which supports debt, is part of the town’s overall property-tax rate.

Mayor Dan Reese said the city will provide voters with information ahead of the bond election, which will be accompanied by the regularly scheduled mayoral and council campaigns.

Reese plans to run for reelection. Council seats occupied by Frank Archuleta and Joan Pedrotti, too, will be on the ballot.

In addition, Windcrest voters will be asked Nov. 2 to re-authorize part of the town’s sales tax to continue funding street maintenance citywide.

Council members opted against including in the bond election proposals to enhance lighting around Takas Park’s athletic areas, and to improve the park’s trail and link it to a nearby pond.

City leaders said these kind of recreational improvements would lend themselves to a related parks-and-open-spaces plan the council was expected to adopt in August.

The new parks and green-spaces plan will guide the council and the Parks and Recreation Commission on future improvements which, according to the newly adopted strategic plan, is among the top priorities for many residents.

Parks and Recreation is proceeding with four short-term plans: the aforementioned dog park and improved lighting around Takas Park to accommodate after-dark athletic activities, as well as public fishing opportunities at the city’s ponds, and creating a dedicated remote-control aircraft flying site.

“We want to be innovative in the way we use the land and support the citizens,” Commission Chairman David Hook told the council July 19.

It would cost more than $81,000 to secure land for the prospective dog park and outfit it with a 6-foot-high chainlink fence with double gates, water service, shade, dog-waste bag stations and benches.

Leaders have discussed possibly dipping into Windcrest’s Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues to help upgrade Takas Park’s lighting.

Councilwoman Cindy Strzelecki argued improved lighting not only will boost park use after sunset, but it could spur an increase in baseball tournaments at Takas Park and lure more participants who’d stay in hotels inside city limits.

But others such as Councilwoman Joan Pedrotti worry Takas Park’s current athletic offerings may not be enough to justify using restricted HOT funds.

“I just feel like we’re opening the city up to real liability if we don’t answer those questions,” she said.

The long-term strategic plan guides what city officials, residents and merchants say are needed upgrades in city services and amenities.

Many residents and some local leaders raised the idea of giving Police Department personnel more modernized space. Reese backed the concept, but said a proper staffing and space-needs review must come first.

“Even if we open up space, how much would it cost us to make that space useable?” Pedrotti added.

WINDCREST STRATEGIC PLAN AT A GLANCE:

City officials said a pool with more amenities, a dog park and other recreational features are among several priorities that surveyed residents, merchants and visitors shared as part of the strategic plan’s development.

Other priorities in the strategic plan are:

  • Review city government staffing and space needs
  • Street and light maintenance
  • Improve city entrances  and aesthetics
  • Offer health and wellness activities
  • Boost public art communitywide
  • Lure more retailers, restaurants, and multi-use businesses and residences to town
  • Bolster communication and collaboration with schools serving Windcrest
  • Upgrade city branding, newsletter,  website and social media

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