Council okays geothermal study for pool


by Beecher Threatt
A proposal by a city committee to authorize $19,600 for a geothermal study met stiff opposition from city council Tuesday night, but in the end council approved the request on a four to one vote.
Since October, the Hot Springs Pool Capital Improvement Committee has met weekly. The bottom line, said chair Tamara Gulde, is "how much hot water do we have and how do we get it to the pool." Discussion with council during a work session and at the end of the regular council meeting centered on the current pipeline and data regarding temperatures and flows.

The committee presented a proposal by engineering firm SGM to analyze the amount of water available and amounts needed to maintain desired temperatures. Mayor Bob Risch and member Richard Kersen balked at the price tag, saying the city already has the "numbers" the committee is looking for. Member John Ferguson noted the city may have the data but someone who is qualified needs to analyze it and put it together in a coherent way. "It's not a lot of money in the big scheme of things," Ferguson said. "It's not just how much water, but also water efficiency."
Pool manager Tom Kavanaugh suggested the funds for the study could come from the $20,000 currently budgeted for phases two and three of the filtration project, which would not be needed until next year. Kersen, who was the only "no" vote on the study, questioned spending those funds for something other than council authorized.
During the lengthy discussion, council members kept mentioning that Risch "had some numbers," referring to data on temperatures and flows, that were part of what the study would produce. Risch acknowledged he did have that information.
Finally, committee member Vicky Clark stood and addressed the mayor directly, saying, "I'm really angry because we spent all this time (weekly meetings) and no one has given us the numbers that we now find out are out there. Mr. Mayor, you knew this was going on."
Risch said some of his data were given to Rick Noll, a committee member. Noll said those were just spring flows from a certain time period, and even if they had all the data from Risch the committee would not know how to analyze it without expert assistance.
Council member Gary Hansen said it was not clear to him that the city was getting $19,600 worth of services in the proposal, but he thought it would be demoralizing to the committee not to approve the request.
The committee is comprised of community members including pool users, lodging and retail business owners, a geologist, Ouray Chamber Resort Association and Ouray School representatives, and others. It was formed by council to study significant improvements to the pool.
On Tuesday the council also:
--approved first reading of an ordinance to prohibit marijuana clubs in the city. The motion to pass the ordinance as an emergency measure passed three to two, which was not sufficient to pass an emergency ordinance. Another motion to approve first reading only passed four to one; therefore, it will proceed as a regular ordinance, requiring a second reading and a public hearing.
--tabled a request by Ouray County Historical Society to waive the building permit fees for remodeling on its new Main Street location because no one from OCHS was present. Council member Michael Underwood said if a group makes a request of council then a representative should be there to take questions.
--asked staff to schedule a work session with the Community Development Committee to review its work on revising the city noise regulations.