City shutters pool, continues OHV discussion

Brett Berntsen
Mike Duke, aquatics manager for the Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, says the Brookside Pool was losing 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of water a day last season.

FARMINGTON – The City Council on Tuesday voted to keep the Brookside Pool closed this summer, due to costly repairs required at the aging facility.

Cory Styron, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, said it would have cost a minimum of $250,000 to open the nearly 60-year-old pool. By the time work would have been completed, only two months would have remained in the swimming season, he said.

Issues included a faulty filtration system and large leaks in the pool bottom, according to Mike Duke, aquatics manager at the parks department.

Last summer, filters purified the water so slowly that managers were forced to close the pool every other day to meet national health standards, Duke said. The pool also leaked between 12,000 and 15,000 gallons of water each day.

"That worried me, because who knows where it was all going," Duke said.

By shuttering the pool, the city can focus its attention on developing a long-term plan for the facility, Councilor Nathan Duckett said.

In previous discussions, Mayor Tommy Roberts directed the city staff to look into building a water park at the facility.

Mike Duke, aquatics manager for the Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, walks on the Brookside Pool liner that conceals water underneath on Tuesday.

Duke said the best time to go forward with a such a project is the fall, when construction companies have lower prices and more availability.

In other action, councilors agreed to tweak an ordinance regulating off-highway vehicles driving on city streets.

A state law takes effect on May 23, legalizing OHVs on paved roads, but that measure leaves local governments the option of creating their own specific rules. City Attorney Jennifer Breakell has drafted an ordinance based on laws set by neighboring states, but councilors moved to simplify and tailor the rules to Farmington.

Due to safety concerns, councilors agreed to strike all-terrain vehicles such as four-wheelers from the ordinance, and only allow larger side-by-sides and recreational off-highway vehicles, or ROVs.

Darryl Dunlap, the owner of Dunlap Performance and Motorsports and a member of the steering committee helping the city set precedents for OHVs, also took issue with language in the ordinance mandating that vehicles be driven directly to trail heads.

“At least let me drive down to a gas station,” he said.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe agreed and said the stipulation would get his officers involved in frivolous conversations about which routes drivers were taking.

Councilors agreed to remove the trail head designation from the rules. Breakell will include the councilors' recommendations in a new version of the ordinance, which will come up for a vote at the council meeting on May 10.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-6404.