By Karen Riggs
March 1, 2021

The community is a major step closer to developing a sustainable Patagonia Pool. The Pool Assessment prepared for the Friends of the Patagonia Pool (FOPP) is essentially complete and shows that the pool, while over 30 years old, is in good shape and could easily provide at least another decade of recreation, water safety training, water aerobics and lap swim to the communities and schools of Patagonia, Sonoita, Elgin and surrounding areas.

The Counsilman-Hunsaker Pool Assessment Report categorized needed actions in terms of immediate, mid- and long-term.

The Immediate needs are to provide depth markings that meet current standards, provide an ADA accessible lift, cap the vacuum line, remove the diving boards, repair leak in the stainless-steel gutter system and purchase a robotic vacuum. The goal would be to provide all these in the next year. The ADA lift is approximately $12,000 and there should be $16,000 left in the Timken grant for this purpose.

The mid-term needs are to replace the deck and perimeter fencing, purchase an adequate pool cover and provide an ADA accessible bathroom (prefab units are available). The mid-term needs are the most expensive, but the five year timeline to provide these would allow for the raising of additional funds.

The long-term needs are to purchase a variable frequency drive to allow the recirculation pump to operate at its most efficient level and to remodel the mechanical room space to provide for separate, ventilated rooms for storage of the pool chemicals.

The wish list includes a heater for the pool to allow more than four months of use per year and possibly eventually an enclosure. An enclosure along with a heater would enable year-round use.

The assessment also provided an estimate of operation and maintenance costs. It estimates power, water, and chemicals to be approximately $38,000 per year. An estimate for liability insurance has not been established yet. The current policy evidently does not break out the amount just for the pool. A professional maintenance contract with a competent pool company is estimated to cost about $9,000 per year and a part-time pool manager (10 hours a week for four months – currently) would be $3,000. Not including liability insurance, the estimate for a pool of this size is approximately $50,000 per year. It is obvious why the Town and School Districts need substantial assistance with the pool, as they have been budgeting only $30,000 per year.

The pool is sustainable for another decade at least if the proper care and operation is provided. Considering the cost of a new comparable pool is at least $800,000-1,000,000, an investment of approximately 10% of that would keep this valuable community asset operational. Assuming the IGA between the Town and Patagonia School Districts is extended for a few more months so that FOPP can find new partners, FOPP will ramp up its activities, including fundraising, quotes for needed work and program development. New financial partners for the operation and maintenance need to be identified, as well. The Town and Patagonia School Districts have done a remarkable job for over 30 years, but cannot keep doing it on their own.

The FOPP pool assessment was made possible by grant funds from the South32 Hermosa Community Fund held at the Community Fund of Southern Arizona, the Patagonia Regional Community Fund, and by donations from many local pool supporters.

FOPP invites all interested citizens to join our work to keep the pool open. Please contact Karen Riggs, FOPP president at: mustangmtnswriter@gmail.com to lend a hand.