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FARMINGTON — After months of construction, the party and picnic area at the Bloomfield Family Aquatic Center is now open for the public to rent.

The Friends of the Pool, a nonprofit group that worked to install the party area, will be officially dedicating the picnic area at 2 p.m. on Thursday. The aquatic center is located at 201 E. Blanco Blvd.

The 5,000 square foot party area was built where the sandbox was formerly located.

"The sandbox and filters for the swimming pool don't mix," Rhonda Hensley, the president of the Friends of the Pool, said.

The area includes a 400-square-foot shelter.

Hensley said the party area was finished two weeks ago. That was Thursday, and the next day someone called and reserved the facility for a Saturday event.

"We knew there was a need for it," she said.

Steve Gromack, the aquatic center's director, said that wasn't the only rental.

"It kind of surprised me that we got three in the first couple of days," he said.

He said that in the past, pool rentals have been booked up all summer long and the center wanted an option for people who didn't want such a large venue.

The party area is also more affordable.

While renting the entire pool costs $300 for a two hour session, the party area can be rented for $100 for two hours.

The rental includes tickets for up to 10 people to swim in the pool. People renting the picnic area can also bring a propane barbecue grill, food and drinks into the center.

The Friends of the Aquatic Center received the Community Investment Fund Grant in 2014 from BHP Billiton and Navajo Transitional Energy Company. Officials wouldn't disclose the amount.

It was the second year that the aquatic center received money from the Community Investment Fund Grant. Each year, BHP Billiton distributes $400,000 to San Juan County nonprofits. In November 2014, more than 40 local organizations, including the Friends of the Pool, received money through the grant.

The aquatic center also received funding in 2013, which helped pay to install a climbing wall.

Hensley said the pool's new party facility will provide another option for community members who are planning events.

"Now Bloomfield has a party area that's really reasonably priced," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.

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